Eating a healthy diet is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy heart. It’s all very well being reminded of this, but some real detail on what constitutes healthy eating, and even more so for your heart and vascular system is of much more use.
One of the problems in suggesting dietary changes is that people have certain foods that they are used to eating and that they enjoy eating without a lot of thought about how beneficial those foods may or may not be to their health.
Healthy eating is not just all about eating salads and avoiding KFC and other fast foods. Eating a good balance of enjoyable food that contains all the necessary nutrients for the human body to thrive is what is important. Let’s look at the building blocks (macro-nutrients) that our body needs to be healthy.
These used to be the staple energy source for our diets. What has happened in recent years is the fatty foods are taken over and fats have now provided a larger than an essential proportion of our energy source.
It has been researched and documented that carbohydrate intake should be limited to those foods that contain the complex carbohydrates that our bodies need.
A healthy diet means avoiding simple sugars, candies, and cakes and relying on healthy carbs such as whole grain, high-fiber bread, and pasta.
Ideally when under exertion, muscles like to use protein as an energy source as it is converted into usable energy faster than anything else. This is why bodybuilders take protein supplements to enhance muscle growth.
Reliable protein sources include all types of legumes, nuts, and seeds all of which provide a great source of energy for the body. In terms of heart health, good levels of protein must be available to keep those heart muscles pumping.
For quite some time the jury has been out on the subject of fat in our diets; opinion has swung like a pendulum in recent years. Now, however, we have the benefit of exacting science which has discovered only very recently that not all fat is bad.
What scientists have found is that trans-fats do not provide any benefits to the body whatsoever; we could happily live completely without them and be healthier as a result.
It was only recently discovered that margarine is not as good for you as butter, a complete reversal of previous thinking, although, for a healthy heart, butter intake should be restricted.
The American Heart Association has recommended that intake levels for the various fats should be as follows:
Total fats – between 25 and 35% of the total daily intake of calories
Saturated/hydrogenated fats – less than 7%
Trans-fats – less than 1% or avoid completely
Non-saturated fats – These should make up the remaining part of the fat intake and ought to contain plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids such as olive oil and fish. The remaining fats need to come from polyunsaturated natural sources like seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Kill the cholesterol before it kills you
The type of eaten fat is also proportional to the health risk; fats that raise LDL-cholesterol are real killers – make no mistake, these fats terminally clog the arteries of more than 40% of people arriving at our mortuaries.
This is why it is such a good reason to know the difference between good and bad dietary components – there is no doubt at all for a healthy heart, healthy eating habits make a huge difference.