Young at heart!
We still haven’t found the fountain of youth, but we do know more and more about health and we know that healthy lifestyle habits are the key to good health.
A healthy heart is a good place to start! Several factors influence cardiovascular health. Certain factors such as family history, age, and sex are hereditary, and therefore not within our control. However, with strong willpower we can control some other factors. Limiting alcohol consumption and eating well will help to prevent excess weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Let’s take a look at cholesterol
For starters, you should know that your body produces 80% of the cholesterol that circulates in your blood. With a quick calculation you’ll realize that you can only influence 20% of your blood cholesterol. Another important point is that cholesterol in food doesn’t pose a danger to your blood cholesterol level. In fact, it’s saturated fats and trans fats that are the worst culprits.
For some, heredity has a strong influence on blood cholesterol levels, even if their diet is low in saturated and trans fats. For this reason, let’s focus on the positive. Instead of a list of food to avoid, here are the most recommended foods to include in your diet.
Key words: plant proteins, omega-3 and fibre!
Fish is high in omega-3s, but we choose it mainly for its taste! Try salmon, trout, tuna, or mackerel. Prepare it in a foil pouch on the barbecue with fresh herbs like dill (a classic), sliced lemon, and a drizzle of vegetable oil. Make a homemade breadcrumb coating of corn flakes and spices like paprika, rosemary, or chilli powder. Fish is also delicious served cold as part of a salad meal.
Does thinking about salad meals make you salivate? Well then go for it! A salad meal is an excellent choice, especially since you can add super foods to it. Make a vinaigrette with some olive oil or a mixture of olive and canola oil. Add your favourite spices, use good vinegar, a touch of Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, and for a hint of sweetness add some maple syrup or honey. Complete it with a serving of protein by adding legumes or nuts – variety is the name of the game because there’s such a lot to choose from.
Soy is a must! You can eat or drink this versatile food that can be added to or blended into all sorts of drinks or dishes. Edamame beans, the basis of soy products, contain lots of protein and make excellent vegetable side dishes. Look for them in the frozen food section. The best known type of soy is tofu (firm, silky, and dessert), soy beverages, and soy-based products.
If you’ve done some reading about cholesterol, you’re likely familiar with plant sterols. The good news is that they’re naturally present in many foods like nuts, grains, cereal, fruits, vegetables, sunflower and canola oil, and soy. Plant sterols inhibit the absorption of cholesterol that’s circulating in the blood, thus eliminating it. The result is lower blood cholesterol levels. As mentioned, plant sterols are naturally present in some foods, but there are also products that are enriched with plant sterols such as certain margarines. Don’t be afraid to try them!
“Let food be thy medicine” —Hippocrates
You will notice that basic advice given for many chronic illnesses is often quite similar. Is this a coincidence? Probably not! Research in many health sectors is ongoing. Science is continually evolving as is our knowledge, and yet we don’t always understand what’s happening in foods. There is a synergy between food elements that are, as of yet, unknown. So if you like fish, eat it and benefit at the same time from the omega-3s it provides. Let’s not forget that the foods we eat are our best allies for improving our health!