Heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada – accounting for approximately 29% of all deaths and taking the life of a Canadian every seven minutes. While these are staggering statistics, the good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and increasing your level of physical activity are all important ways to reduce your risk. However, given the importance of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as risk factors, switching to a more “heart-healthy” diet is definitely a great place to start if you’re looking to reduce your risk. If you’re not sure how to go about making your diet more heart-healthy, here are a few basic principles to follow:
Many foods contain more fat, salt and calories than you would expect. Always make sure to check the nutrition labels before buying.
Cut visible fat from meats and remove the skin from poultry. This will help reduce your overall fat and calorie consumption. You should also try boiling, baking, grilling or roasting instead of pan-frying or deep-frying.
Reduce the amount of salt in your cooking by using a variety of herbs or spices to give your food flavour instead. You should also avoid canned or prepared foods whenever possible as these often contain a great deal of added salt. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day – that’s about one teaspoon worth.
Half your plate should contain a mix of different vegetables while a quarter should be whole grains such as brown rice and the final quarter should be healthy proteins such as fish, poultry, lean meat or legumes.
When eating out, look for meals that are baked, grilled, roasted or steamed. These often contain less fat. Also try to avoid heavy sauces whenever possible and ask for reduced salt options. Foods that are pickled, smoked or served with soy sauce are usually very high in sodium, so try to stay away from these choices as well. Restaurant portions are often quite large, so it’s a good idea to share or to take some home with you for later.
If you, or someone you know, is concerned about your risk of heart disease and stroke and need help with modifying your diet or with increasing your level of physical activity, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Remember, at Physiomed, Healthier Starts Here!