We know there are 1.6 million Canadians living with heart disease & stroke, and 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke cases are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours. (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada).
We’ve talked about 4 ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease, but what dietary changes can we make to further reduce our risks?
Eat Healthy Balanced Meals
This includes making sure you are getting the right amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
Vegetables and Fruit: Many vegetables and fruit are particularly rich in vitamin C (broccoli, red peppers, oranges and strawberries) and in beta-carotene (carrots, tomatoes, squash and sweet potatoes), which is a form of vitamin A. These work as antioxidants in your body, helping to slow down or prevent atherosclerosis by reducing the buildup of plaque from cholesterol and other substances in the arteries.
Whole Grains: Fibre found in whole grains is vital to a heart-healthy diet. A healthy adult needs 25 to 38 grams a day, but surveys show that the average Canadian daily intake is about 14 grams. Need to eat more fibre? Choose whole grains options and when grocery shopping, check food product labels carefully. Look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat with the germ listed at the beginning of the ingredient list, and check the fibre content in the Nutrition Facts table. Products with 2 grams of fibre or more are a healthy choice.
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Proteins: Protein is one of three macronutrients that give us calories or energy. The other two macronutrients are fats and carbohydrates. Protein is found in animal products – like fish, poultry, meat and dairy – as well as nuts, legumes and some grains. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that protein foods should make up a quarter of your plate and be consumed regularly.
Avoid Processed Foods
Over processed foods can be high in salt, sugar and fats. Too much of these can increase your risk of heart disease. Try reading the Nutrition Facts table and choosing lower sugar, salt and fat items, and try cooking at home to make your favourite dishes- with less sugar, salt or fat!