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Food For Your Heart

healthy foods arranged in a heart shapeCardiovascular disease is one of the number one killer in Canada. According to Health Canada, it is also the disease that causes the greatest financial burden on our health care system.

Canada spends Millions of dollars on treating cardiovascular disease (CVD), and what kills people suffering from CVD? It’s CVD. All that time and money doesn’t do anything except increase your quantity of life. Your quality of life isn’t helped, but you will live longer with the disease.

Health Canada has started giving out heart-healthy tips, which you can read below:

Don’t Smoke

Not smoking or quitting smoking reduces your risk of developing heart disease and not smoking may help to increase the “good” cholesterol in your blood. It also reduces your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and common cancers.

Eat a Wider Variety of Foods

According to Canada’s Food Guide, as part of a balanced diet, we should enjoy a variety of foods and choose lower-fat foods more often.

Get Moving

As little as 60 minutes a day of accumulated physical activity will help keep your heart in shape. Not sure how to start? Try the Physical Activity Guide for some ideas.

Eating well and staying physically active will help you to control your weight. Avoid fad or miracle diets.
Have regular medical check-ups that include measurement of your blood cholesterol level. You can also be tested for diabetes, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

This is wonderful to see. They are not promoting medical but easy lifestyle changes. I am going to talk a little more in depth about foods and eating well specifically for CVD. Let’s start with eating less fat: This is not exactly true. You want to eat healthy forms of fat like fish, avocados, coconut, nuts, and seeds. These foods all contain Omega 3s. These are wonderful for your heart. They reduce inflammation and improve memory. These types of fats are essential in our diet. You want to reduce the “bad” fats. These can be found in Fatty Beef, pork (bacon and ham), and deep-fried food. You want to eliminate trans fats in chips, or prepackaged foods. Please avoid fat-free products. These are not healthy and are misleading. When you take out the fat you add preservatives and sugar. This is worse for you than eating the fat. Not all fats are the same, and it is not healthy to be a completely fat-free diet.

I need to talk about Vegetarianism or Veganism when it comes to CVD. There is a mix of research out there on whether this is healthier for your heart or not. It really comes down to is it realistic for your lifestyle? Most people are not able to maintain a healthy Vegetarian diet, and end up worse than they were before. I want to get across that Vegetarianism is not a bad alternative for heart health, but it is one that requires lots of education and dedication to maintain a balanced diet. I recommend to my patients a Mediterranean Diet. This is the most studied diet there is. It has wonderful benefits that help CVD, general health promotion, living longer, increasing mood, and heartburn. For heartburn, the Mediterranean Diet was deemed to more effective than the pharmaceuticals for treatment. Here is the pyramid that sums up the Mediterranean Diet.

Mediterranean diet pyramid
To make this diet as heart-friendly as possible, I want you to focus on veggies instead of grains. Grains are still going to be part of your diet, but in smaller quantities. A cup of rice a day is wonderful. Starchy carbs and grains can make you gain weight. When you have heart issues you want to make sure that your weight is under control. Focusing on a high vegetable diet is going to be the best choice for your heart. Remember that changing your diet has to be something sustainable and it is a lifestyle change. If you have any questions feel free to contact our office for a free 15-minute consultation or an initial appointment and I will go over a personalized diet plan for you.

Dr. Liz, ND

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