Changing one’s eating habits can be challenging, even if you know that eating certain foods increases your risk of acquiring a heart disease. Whether you have been on an unhealthy diet for years or you just want to improve your diet, here are some tips on how you can plan out heart-healthy meals. Once you know which foods to limit and which to eat more, you will be on your way towards enjoying a heart-healthy diet.
1. Manage Your Portion Size
How much food you eat is as important as what you eat. Overloading your plates and eating until you’re stuffed will make you consume more calories than you should. A good way to keep this from happening is to use smaller plates and bowls to control your meal portions. Consume larger portions of nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods like vegetables and fruits, and smaller portions of high-sodium, high-calorie foods like processed or refined foods. Following this strategy will surely help you shape your diet and your waistline.
Also, keep track of the number of servings that you eat. For pastas, you should only consume about half a cup (about the size of a hockey puck). For chicken, fish and meat, limit your consumption to only two to three ounces. According to dietitians in Singapore, judging serving portions is a learned skill. So you might need to use measuring spoons or cups until you’re confident of your judgment.
2. Consume More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre. A study conducted by a group of cardiologist in Singapore even revealed that these foods contain substances found in plants, which might help in preventing cardiovascular disease. Consuming more vegetables and fruits will help you eat less high-fat foods like cheese, meats and junk foods.
Incorporating them into your heart-healthy diet is also pretty easy. Just make sure that you wash them and keep them in the refrigerator to serve as a quick snack alternative. Also, choose recipes that have fruits and vegetables as their main ingredient, such fresh fruits mixed into salads or a vegetable stir-fry.
3. Choose Whole Grains
As a respected Singapore cardiologist in Singapore will tell you, whole grains serve as a good source of fibre that plays an important role in regulating your blood pressure and improving heart health. Increase the amount of whole grains that you add in your diet by making a substitute for refined grain products – or be adventurous, and try other whole grain products such as whole-grain barley, farro and quinoa.
4. Limit Your Consumption of Unhealthy Fats
Limiting the amount of saturated and trans-fat that you consume is a crucial step in reducing your blood cholesterol levels and lowering your risk of suffering from coronary artery disease. The best way to do this is by controlling the amount of solid fats that you include in your meals. You can also reduce your fat consumption by choosing lean meats or simply by trimming fat off your choice of meat.
Some cardiologist in Singapore also recommend choosing monounsaturated fats found in canola and olive oil or polyunsaturated fats that are found in avocados, certain fishes, nuts and seeds. When used in place of saturated fat, these fats may help in lowering your blood cholesterol. Just remember to use them in moderation, since all types of fat are known to have a high calorie content.
5. Opt for Low-Fat Protein Sources
Eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat and low-fat dairy products are some of the best sources of protein. However, be mindful when choosing lower fat options like skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken patties, or using skimmed milk instead of whole milk; skimmed milk and skinless chicken breasts are actually less healthy option since they don’t have the desirable fat-to-protein balance that the body needs. Fish is another good alternative for high-fat meats, since various types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that aid in lowering triglycerides.
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas, are also considered as good sources of protein with lower fat content and no cholesterol. So substitute plant protein for animal protein to aid in reducing your cholesterol and fat intake.
6. Plan Out Your Daily Menu
Now that you know which foods to have more and which ones to limit for a heart-healthy diet, it’s now time to put your knowledge into action. Use the above tips in creating your menu. When choosing foods for your meals and snacks, health experts in Singapore suggest emphasizing the use of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as the main ingredient. Choose healthy fats and lean protein sources, but limit salty foods.
Also, make sure to watch your portion sizes and add some variety to your menu. If you grilled salmon one evening, for instance, consider making a black-bean burger on the next night. Doing this ensures that your body gets all the nutrients it needs – plus, adding variety to your snacks and meals makes it more interesting.
7. Indulge on Treats Occasionally
Although your Singapore cardiologist emphasizes the importance of sticking to your heart-healthy diet, allow yourself to indulge every once in a while. Eating a handful of potato chips or a chocolate bar won’t derail your diet, but make sure that you don’t use it as an excuse to give up on your healthy-eating plan. If overindulgence is your main concern, then balance things out before treating yourself to your favourite snack.
Incorporating these meal-planning tips in your life is what will make healthy eating more doable and enjoyable. With proper planning, a few substitutions and the help of your Singapore cardiologist, you will definitely be able to eat with your heart health in mind.
Eggs, Fish, poultry, lean meat and low-fat dairy products are some of the best sources of protein. But be careful in choosing lower fat options like skinless chicken breasts instead of fried chicken patties and skim milk as a replacement for whole milk. Fish is another good alternative for high-fat meats, since certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that aid in lowering triglycerides.