The cardiac diet guidelines recommended here are aimed primarily at lowering the high death rate from heart disease, they may also help prevent other diet-related diseases for heart patients with or without diabetes.
Heart-Healthy Diet Guidelines
Here’s how to make your heart stronger:
- Avoid diet that is high in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and sugar. Most of the recognized risk factors for coronary heart disease are influenced by a rich diet. Replace one or two meals a week with healthier choices you’ll gradually get used to cooking and eating balanced meals.
- Eat a variety of foods each day. Different types of food are necessary to supply the main nutrients required for good cardiac health. No single food contains all these materials.
- Prevent and control obesity. Obesity is one of the world’s major health problems. It increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Reducing excess fats, alcohol and sugar and increasing physical activity will help to bring down your weight. Eat less, rather than cutting out whole categories of food.
- Eat less fat. Excess fats in the diet may contribute to obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, heart disease and certain cancers. Choose lean meats, low-fat dairy products and use low-fat cooking methods. Use butter, margarine, cream and oils sparingly.
- Eat less sugar. High sugar intake is associated with obesity and tooth decay. Sugars, whether white, brown, raw or glucose, are solely an energy source and their nutrient content is negligible.
- Limit alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol contributes to the health, social and nutritional problems of many people. Low nutritional status results when habitual drinking interferes with good eating habits.
- Eat more fruit, vegetables and cereals. Constipation, diverticular disease and other constipation-related ailments are linked with lack of dietary fiber (found only in plant foods). Bread, whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables provide necessary dietary fiber and a variety of nutrients. They are best for replacing foods high in fat and sugar.
- Eat less salt. Sodium from excessive use of table salt and salty processed foods may contribute to high blood pressure. Reducing excess sodium intake from an early age may help to control hypertension. Salt should not be added to food prepared for infants.
- Enjoy water. People drink large amounts of soft drinks and alcohol, which may contribute to obesity and dental caries. Where possible, quench your thirst with water. Use water rather than sweetened syrups and beverages for infants and children.
- Encourage breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the preferred method of providing a growing infant with nutrient and energy needs in the correct proportions. Breastfed babies run less risk of infection than those who are bottle fed.
- Use lean meats, chicken and fish. Remove all visible fat before cooking. Avoid sausages, luncheon meats and salami-type meats. Replace some meats with beans, peas and lentils several times a week.
- Use minimal amounts of fats and oils. Fats and oils are basically the same sorts of compound. Use minimal amounts of butter, margarine, oils, high-oil salad dressings, mayonnaise, cream and cream substitutes.
- Use low-fat dairy products. Limit intake of whole milk and high-fat cheeses and ice cream. Use low-fat milk products, including skim milk, cottage and ricotta cheeses.
- Avoid high-fat foods. Increase the proportion of vegetable oil in the diet and cut down on animal fat. Avoid fried foods, high-fat takeaway foods, pastries, cakes, donuts, chocolates and fried fun foods.
- Use healthy-cooking methods. Use methods that require minimal fat or oil (e.g. grilling, baking, braising, steaming, boiling or pressure cooking). Use recipes requiring only moderate amounts of fat.
Recipes for Your Heart
Polyunsaturated margarine and vegetable seed oils in place of butter and other oils, and skim milk rather than full cream milk contribute to a low cholesterol diet that will help protect against the risk of coronary heart disease.
1. Mexican Fish Cocktail
- 500g (1lb) fresh firm white fish fillets
- ¾ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- 2 tablespoons polyunsaturated oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- dash tabasco sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
Remove all skin and bones from fish and cut into 1cm (½in) pieces. Place in a glass bowl and pour over lemon juice. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours, turning occasionally until fish turns white and opaque. Avoid using metal spoons or utensils.
Remove fish from bowl and drain well. Mix tomatoes, green pepper, oil, vinegar, tabasco sauce, parsley, salt and pepper together, add fish and toss well. Spoon in glasses and serve.
2. Stuffed Apples In Meringue With Mocha Sauce
- 6 large cooking apples
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ cups water
- 3 drops vanilla essence
- 1 cup finely chopped dried fruit
- 60g (2oz) polyunsaturated margarine
- 2 egg whites
- ¼ cup castor sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 1 tsp instant coffee powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp arrowroot
- ½ cup poaching syrup
Core apples, place in a baking dish. Bring sugar, water and vanilla essence to the boil, continue boiling for 10 minutes, pour over apples. Bake in oven at 300°F (150°C) for 20 minutes. Remove apples into a serving dish. Combine dried fruit, margarine and ½ cup of poaching syrup. Stuff into cored apples.
Beat egg whites until stiff, gradually add sugar to form a meringue. Pipe or spoon meringue over top of each apple. Dust with castor sugar and return to oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Combine cocoa, coffee powder, sugar and arrowroot, blend in remaining syrup, heat gently until bubbling. Serve with apples.
3. Zucchini Cake
- 125g polyunsaturated margarine
- ½ cup raw sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup natural low-fat yogurt
- 1 cup natural sultanas
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup sunflower seed kernels
- ¾ cup white rice flour
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder (wheat-free)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Prepare a 23cm fluted ring cake-tin by greasing with some extra melted margarine (polyunsaturated). Cream margarine, sugar and vanilla. Stir in yogurt, sultanas, apricots, zucchini, pecans and sunflower seed kernels into creamed mixture.
Sift flours, baking powder and cinnamon into a small bowl. Stir sifted dry ingredients into mixture. In a separate clean, dry bowl, beat egg whites until they are stiff and lightly fold into mixture. Spread mixture into prepared tin and smooth the surface.
For convection: place cake into oven and bake for approx 45 minutes or until cooked when tested. For microwave: microwave on high for about nine minutes or until cooked when tested. Remove from oven and leave in tin for 10 mins before turning out to cool.
A healthy lifestyle is the best key to a healthy heart. As with many things, leading a healthy lifestyle will benefit you both today and in later life. Not only will you look and feel better but you’re much more likely to live a healthy and long life.
- Be a non-smoker. There is no safe level of smoking. Smoking is a contributing factor to many health problems, including heart attack and strokes. Passive smoking (breathing in other people’s smoke) also poses many health problems.
- Eat a cardiac diet or heart-healthy diet. Just remember that healthy eating does not have to mean boring food or stringent diets. The key to healthy eating is to eat a wide range of nutritious foods. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, lots of bread, rice, pasta and other grain products, along with reduced-fat dairy products, fish, lean meat and poultry. Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to try new foods or recipes. Here are several suggestions for modifying recipes for a healthier heart:
- Reduce fat content by using polyunsaturated oil and margarine.
- Use less salt, vegetable salt, stock cubes, soy sauce and salted, canned vegetables. Try including herbs, spices, lemon etc. for interesting flavors.
- Include high-fiber foods, such as whole grain cereals, wholemeal flour and wholemeal pastas.
- Use less sugar (white, brown or raw) and less honey.
- Keep a check on your blood pressure. High blood pressure usually does not give warning signs. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is by having it checked regularly. Have regular checkups with your doctor, so that you can keen an eye on blood pressure level.
- Exercise regularly. The more you exercise the better – but it doesn’t have to be vigorous. It may be long walks or leisurely swimming, or tennis or golf. Or you may want to push yourself a bit more, such as aerobic classes. You may wish to incorporate extra physical activity into your working hours, such as:
- getting off the bus a stop early and walking to your office or home;
- parking the car at the far end of the car-park and walking the extra distance;
- walking at lunch time (why not forming an office or neighborhood walking group for company);
- or taking the stairs instead of the lift.
So why not give it a go! Reduce your risk of heart disease by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle and reap the benefits.