Welcome to the second half of my blog on the heart-healthy diet!
This week’s blog will focus on other parts of the heart-healthy diet. Remember, a heart-healthy diet is a diet that includes all food groups and all foods in proper portion moderation that is especially full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables for adequate fibre intake, lean meat, skinless fish and poultry, plant-based proteins, heart-healthy fats and oils that include nuts and seeds and overall providing a colourful nutrient-dense plate at every meal. This diet is also lower in sodium and added sugar that emphasizes the intake of whole foods, minimally processed and nutrient-dense as often as possible. It limits tropical oils and other sources of saturated fat, excludes trans fats and does allow for alcohol in moderation as long as there is a medical service provider’s approval.
As you have seen me write about before this is how your plate should be broken down:
For this week’s blog we will focus on:
Alrighty! Let’s jump in and talk protein! Protein is important for keeping us fuller for longer and building lean body mass to help aid in weight management which you know is very important in preventing and/or treating heart disease. It also helps ensure our enzymes, hormones and immune system are able to function, among other things. The average person needs about 50-60 grams per day or about 20g per meal. Did you know it is only humanly possible for the body to absorb 25-30g per meal max, despite any other supplements taken? Heart-healthy proteins include lean meats, skinless poultry, and fatty fish as
well as low-fat dairy. Don’t forget the plant-based proteins, these not only have protein but are typically lower in calories and saturated fat (the fat that increases our cholesterol levels) and they contain fibre and antioxidants. Other sources of protein don’t have fibre and antioxidants, you can read all the benefits of fibre from the last blog. A typical serving of protein is the palm of your hand.
Here are some sources of heart-healthy proteins and their serving sizes:
Low-fat milk (1 cup)
Low fat no sugar added yoghurt (1 cup)
Low-fat cheese (1 ounce)
Fish and specifically fatty fish like salmon tuna mackerel and tilapia (3-4 ounces)
Lean beef (3 ounces/palm of your hand)
Lean poultry with the skin removed (3 ounces/palm of your hand)
Nuts (1/4 cup)
Seeds (1/4 cup)
Beans (1 cup)
Lentils (1 cup)
Soy products (3.5 ounces)
It is recommended that you have 2 servings of fish per week and at least one meal per week of plant-based
Next on to dairy. It is recommended to have 3 servings of low-fat no added sugar dairy per day to help aid in satiety as well as to help our bones and teeth. It is part of a balanced diet. Examples include the following:
- Low-fat milk (1 cup)
- Low-fat no sugar added yoghurt (1 cup)
- Low-fat cheese (1 ounce)
Now let’s discuss about fats. They are an essential part of the diet. They are necessary for our brain health, good for our cardiovascular system- depending on the kind 😉 . They help us feel fuller for longer and even help us absorb nutrients from our meals. For example, without the presence of fat you cannot absorb Vitamins A, D, E, and K. We need about 65 grams of fat per day.
There are 3 types:
- Solid at room temperature
- Come from animal products (meat, diary) and some plant products, i.e coconut oil… who knew?!
- Can increase cholesterol levels
- Amount recommended per day 12-15g as these increase cholesterol levels. It is not that we can’t have these fats, we just need to exercise moderation and proper portion of these products.
Unsaturated (includes: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega 6’s and omega 3’s)
- Liquid at room temperature
- Come from mostly plant-based products (oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish)
- Depending on the type of unsaturated fat they can help reduce total cholesterol levels, decrease bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL)
- Amount recommended per day 50-53g
- Semi-solid at room temperature
- Mostly human-made and added to highly processed foods, particularly baked goods in order to increase shelf life and flavour profile
- Increase total cholesterol levels, increased bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL)
- The amount recommended is ZERO per day as they are that detrimental to our health and greatly increase our risk of heart disease. In fact, several countries around the world have banned their use completely.
Bottom Line: it’s more important to focus on the type of fat you are consuming rather than the amount of fat you are consuming. Fun fact, did you know the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest diets in the world is a high-fat diet?! AND those that eat a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of heart disease and other chronic diseases.
When it comes to alcohol one serving per day for women and two servings per day for men are safe and can be cardioprotective. However, be mindful of what you are mixing them with, i.e cocktails that can add calories and sugar and are you choosing regular beer or light beer? I recommend red wine as you then also get antioxidants that help to reverse cell damage and prevent chronic disease. You must check with you doctor if they are okay with you consuming alcohol to see if you are at risk for alcohol abuse as well as the types of medication you may be taking as they can have negative interactions.
And finally, Sodium… aka salt. Sodium intake must be managed as it can increase blood pressure which can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. If you have heart disease it is recommended that you consume no more than 1,500mg per day. You must remember that includes that salt that is already in the food, not just what you are adding to your foods. AND did you know sea salt, Himalayan sea salt -all of it- ALL has the exact same amount of sodium!? Salt is salt, my friends, just watch your portions!
Of course, I could run a whole course on the heart-healthy diet, but these last two blogs give you a great introduction to the heart-healthy diet and some simple swaps you can implement today to increase your heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease and or help in your treatment of it. If you have any other questions you know where to find me!