Our hearts are truly what guide us in life to find happiness and fulfillment in each moment. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have good days and bad days, it just means that we give ourselves the space to find fulfillment when we listen to our hearts.
Sadly, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in developed countries. Given that there is so much we can do to prevent heart disease, it is truly a shame that more people die of this nearly preventable disease every year.
I would like to share some information with you this month so that you can start to give your heart what it has been asking for your whole life; to be well loved and cared for! The bottom line: the most important step to prevent heart disease is DIET.
Here are some tips to protect your heart through diet:
Eat protein with every meal. Sounds familiar right? Protein keeps blood sugar more stable, and one of the risks of heart disease is blood sugar imbalance.
Our bodies run much better on a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates at every meal.
Remember that vegetables have carbohydrates, some few and some many. You can always take out grain carbs and replace them with vegetable carbs.
Eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit. At least 8-10 servings:
- seven to eight servings of vegetables a day: 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked is equal to one serving.
- one to two servings of fresh fruit daily.
- whole, in season/local, preferably organic vegetables and fruit are the best way to get the most nutrients out of the food (if you are on a budget, you can always check out www.ewg.org for the dirty dozen). Frozen vegetables are fine to use, but stay away from canned vegetables.
Consume two ‘fatty fish’ meals a week: wild and sustainably caught. Examples of fatty fish include: salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, and sardines. Just 3 ounces provides 1 gm of EPA and DHA, the heart protective omega-3 fatty acid.
Eat fresh nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans. These have been shown to benefit cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Whole, raw, unsalted nuts are the best.
Eat a high-fiber diet: 40-50 gms daily in the form of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains.
Stay sufficiently hydrated: the body physiologically requires about half your body weight in ounces of water daily. You will need more if you drink diuretics or workout. And, if you are eating the recommended fiber, you need the water to help you…go to the bathroom regularly!
Graze if you are the type who gets hungry quickly and will eat anything in site. Carry a bag of nuts or trail mix around.
Emphasize olive oil in dressings and low-heat cooking. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which are great at improving HDL.
Both garlic and onions are great for the heart, reducing blood pressure and improving immunity.
Drink green tea, which provides antioxidants and lowers cholesterol.
Here are the things to avoid:
Avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils (fully and partially) at all costs. Trans fats increase LDL, lower HDL, and adversely affect the cholesterol to HDL ratio. They have also been proposed to interfere with fatty acid metabolization, including those fatty acids that are beneficial to the heart.
o Avoid high fructose corn syrup, excess sugar, white flour, and processed and refined packaged goods. This is for many reasons, but mainly because they contain too much sugar, which inadvertently increases our fat and fat storage, AND because they are void of nutrients.
o Avoid soft drinks, juice and sugary drinks, which increase not only your risk for diabetes but your risk for heart disease. Fructose is a sort of ‘empty calorie’ that does not tell your body’s satiety center it has just consumed a few hundred calories.
It may seem overwhelming to implement dietary changes, but remember one thing at a time goes a lot further than giving up because you can’t change everything at once. Promise yourself to improve on something and once that becomes part of your routine, move onto the next improvement.
Dr. Maggie Luther
Dr. Maggie Luther specializes in holistic health and disease prevention. She runs a full service naturopathic medicine clinic helping people with chronic conditions add more health into their life, as well as educating individuals on what it takes to live a preventative lifestyle. Dr. Maggie loves meeting people where they are at on their journey to health and inspiring them to take the necessary steps it takes to live a health promoting life. If you have further questions or would like more information check out www.healthyrootsnaturalmedicine.com.