Do you find it difficult to eat healthily every day for your heart? If you do, then this weeks blog post is for you.
In one of my previous posts I talked about How to Beat Heart Disease in Four Easy Steps. This week, I’m going to take you through a typical day of what to eat to beat heart disease: How To Eat Healthily Every Day for Your Heart
Let’s kick off with breakfast. For a lot of people that means sugary cereals or bacon and eggs. Skip the animal products and you’ll instantly be eliminating all the animal fat and cholesterol from your diet. (You’ll only find cholesterol in animal products. Grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, in fact plants, don’t have it.)
Kick off your day with oats. They contain soluble fibre that reduces your cholesterol level. Try having it with cinnamon, apple sauce (no sugar added), cherries or bananas to name a few. There are so many variations that you can have a different topping each day of the week!
Mid morning and afternoon snacks
Fruit is the way to go if you’re looking for a snack. Try bananas, sliced apples, or even better, blueberries. In a recent 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial it was found that just one cup of blueberries each day for eight weeks can help lower your blood pressure.
Now, what to have for lunch. Did you know that foods rich in potassium work with sodium to naturally balance blood flow and lower blood pressure? If you eat a diet rich in potassium foods, such as tomatoes, research has shown that you’re 12% less likely to have a stroke than those that don’t eat potassium rich foods.
So for lunch why don’t you have a delicious tomato and butterbean soup (click here for the recipe) with a salad of spinach and baby tomatoes with a lemon, maple syrup and ginger dressing?
The spinach is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower triglycerides, curbing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Spinach is also packed with antioxidants like lutein (you’ll also find it in other green leafy vegetables such as kale), that protects the carotid arteries. These are the arteries that supply your head and neck with oxygenated blood.
Go for legumes – lentils, peas and beans. Try a veggie chilli with kidney beans or pinto beans or black beans with salsa or baked beans. Beans, like oats, contain soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol, but they’re also packed with protein and they’re rich in calcium, iron, folate, magnesium and protein.
Not only are they good for your heart, but research has shown that people who include beans in their regular menu weigh, on average, 6.5 pounds less than people who don’t eat them. They also have lower levels of “bad” cholesterol LDL, and higher levels of “good” cholesterol HDL.
If you’re just starting to eat beans, begin with small portions at first to let your body get used to them. Cook them well and, if you suffer from gas, try adding kombu, a seaweed, when you’re cooking them.
You can use canned or dried beans, but if you’re going for the canned beans remember to choose the ones that are packed in water with no added salt/sodium.
Add some starch such as brown rice or pasta and complete your plate with potassium rich sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, bok choy or beet greens and you’ve got a great filling dinner that will round of your heat healthy day perfectly.
What about salt/sodium?
Try to limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day – one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium! Your heart will thank you as a diet that is high in salt can cause raised blood pressure, which currently affects around one third of adults in the UK.
Going out for Dinner?
If you’re worried about following a whole food plant-based diet when you’re out for dinner, don’t worry. There are lots of great places to eat including Mexican, Thai and Indian restaurants. There’s usually lots to choose from e.g. vegetable fajitas, soft bean tacos – hold the cheese and sour cream, pad Thai and vegetable dishes – remember to ask about fish sauce and eggs, or lovely rich dhals in Indian restaurants – watch out for the ghee, eggs and dairy in bread and off course the yogurt sauces.
If you happen to be in a restaurant and find that there’s nothing for you to eat, order from the sides such as a baked potato with a salad and extra beans, or better still ask if they can make you a vegetable plate. Many are very helpful.
If you’re heading to a fast food place, choose one that has an extensive salad bar or where you can get a veggie burger.
Still feeling hungry?
If you’re feeling hungry, you’re just not eating enough. I know, it’s hard to believe, but when you change the way you eat to a whole food, plant-based diet, you can eat as many plant-based food as you want, without gaining weight. So if you want seconds of that fibre filled bean chilli, go ahead, want more rice sure thing. It’s not a problem. There’s no calorie counting either!
Remember to add in some exercise during your day as well. Try a fast 10 minute walk three times a day, for instance on the way to work or the grocery store or round the block. For more information on exercise and heart health, go here: http://ornishspectrum.com/proven-program/fitness/
So there you go, a wonderful way to eat healthily for your heart every day of the week.
Are you looking for more help?
If you’re looking for more whole food, plant-based recipes, check out my new digital cookbook which features 31 plant-based meals. Click here to read more.
If you’d like some help on your plant-based journey, I have developed a special 7 day whole food, plant-based eating plan designed to get you started. Click here for more information.
If you’re interested in my new online course, please click here to register your interest.
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 Y. Papanikolaou et al., “Bean consumption by adults is associated with a more nutrient dense diet and a reduced risk of obesity”, presented at the Experimental Biology Conference, April 1-5, 2006, San Francisco, CA