It’s your friendly nutritionist here again, and this week I will continue to share more ways way on how you can take care of your heart with what you eat. We all know how important our hearts are to keep us alive and well. You can live without various organs but you cannot live without a heart. It has been a scientific debate for years, of how much of your longevity is determined by your genes vs. your lifestyle. Observational studies were done using identical twins separated when they were young and found that genetics did not appear to impact on longevity. Sure, strongly genetic traits such as heart disease and diabetes can affect lifespan but not genetics by itself.
Nurture and lifestyle are the defining forces determining our life span. This may be bad news if you had a grandparent who lived to 100 and thought you could eat steak and drink bourbon every day. It is probably good news, however, for the rest of us, because it means the die is not cast.
Is fat bad for my health?
Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean;
And so betwixt them both,They licked the platter clean.
I’m sure you might have heard this nursery rhyme, Jack Sprat. It has been said that this rhyme is a veiled reference to King Charles I and his financial problems with Parliament. But one thing is for sure, it does not portray good eating habits for either Jack or his wife. Both too much fat as no fat in the diet can be a cause of health problems.
Of course fats like the fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9, have its usefulness in our daily diets. These fatty acids help to lower low density lipids which are harmful and raise the high density lipids which are good indicators of heart health. These good fatty acids can be found in fatty fish like tuna and mackerel, nuts and seeds like peanuts and pepitos.
Now lets talk a little about FATTY FOODS. The ones that entice our appetites and our palates, with their golden brown and sometimes crispy exterior, that just seem to make us happy. You might see the following picture and say to yourself, “that looks delicious” and depending on your eating habits you might find it tastes delicious to you. But the damage that these foods can cause in your body can be life threatening.
Cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats are the ones that are detrimental to our cardiovascular system. Your body receives an increased amount of cholesterol by the dietary choices that you make, and the excess can lead to atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Cholesterol is found in animal products and saturated fats are found in oils that are solid at room temperature, like margarine, butter, lard, animal products and even coconut oil. Trans fats and saturated fats are found in food industrial products like chips, cakes and cookies.
Now how can we make some wise heart healthy changes?
Some vegetable oils such as those extracted from corn, soy, safflower and sunflower contain omega 6 fatty acids, while canola and olive, especially extra virgin, contain omega 3 fatty acids. These can be a healthy alternative and can even be used instead of margarine and butter.
Try switching to reduced fat or non-fat dairy products. Also add nuts and seeds in your diet. Have a hand full of nuts at least 3 times a week, preferable unsalted.
Decrease the amount of fried foods eaten and try to adopt other methods of preparation like pan seared, baked, steamed and even a very popular option : air fry.
Reduce the amount and frequency of animal products especially processed varieties like sausages, hams, dried meats, eaten every week. Try to go a meal or a day vegetarian or vegan, taking advantage of the healthful benefits offered from fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grain foods.