Eat Your Way to Happy, Healthy!

Ajibola Abdulkadir March 26, 2014

eating healthy
“Happiness is in the heart and not in the circumstances.” – Unknown

I say a healthy heart is a happy heart. Even the Bible says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” I can just see you all saying. “Yeah, yeah, we all know this,” but if we do, why do more and more people fall severely ill and die from heart-related conditions than ever before? Well, the answer is simple, we are not guarding our hearts enough.

SEE ALSO: Top 6 Medical Examinations Every Woman Should Have

Don’t fret though, there is a solution to this problem: our kitchens! What simpler way to guard our hearts than through our diet?

It has been discovered that certain foods can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease. Hippocrates understood this very well more than 2,000 years ago when he said, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” Here’s Face2Face’s guide on how you can eat more healthily:

Portion Control: How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, having seconds, and eating until you feel so stuffed that you can’t breathe leads to eating more calories and cholesterol than you should. To control your portions, try to keep track of the number of servings you eat and use proper serving sizes. (You may need to use measuring cups and spoons or a scale until you’re comfortable with your judgment). Eat more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and less high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed, or fast foods.

When you do this, not only do you shape up your diet but your heart and waistline as well.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain substances that help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables also help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese, and snacks. Incorporating vegetables and fruits in to your diet is not so difficult; keep them washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fresh fruits in a bowl in your kitchen or on your dining table so that you’ll remember to eat them or pick one or two on your way to work. You can also choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredient, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed in to salads.

 Select Whole Grains: Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and good heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by substituting them for refined grain products, or be adventurous and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain couscous, quinoa, or barley. Another easy way to add whole grains to your diet is ground flaxseed, which are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds and stir a teaspoon of them in to yogurt or hot cereal.

Reduce Consumption of Unhealthy Fats and Cholesterol: Limiting how much saturated and transfats you eat is an important step to reducing your blood cholesterol and lowering your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called “atherosclerosis,” which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats, such as butter and margarine you add to food when cooking and serving. You may also want to check the food labels of some snacks; even those labeled “reduced fat” may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list. And when you have to use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet, but moderation is key because all types of fat are high in calories.

Some examples of other top heart-healthy foods include oranges, salmon, garlic, kale, sardines, almonds, oatmeal, walnuts, black or kidney beans, brown rice, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Changing diets can be somewhat difficult, but hey, it’s not impossible. You can start with these simple strategies and gradually eat your way to a healthy, happy heart.

Ajibola Abdulkadir is a medical doctor currently practicing occupational medicine in Lagos, Nigeria. She has a keen interest in health education and women’s health. She’s an avid encourager of education in any form and is passionately driven to educate Africans on their healthcare needs.

Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: March 26, 2016


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