Cardio recipe for good heart health.
Our priority is to help everyone to look after their heart health through evidence-based dietary interventions. This sounds simple. The CardioKit team wants it to be easy so that more people can benefit from our lifestyle advice. Find all Dr. Ali Khavandi’s tips for the ‘INGREDIENTS FOR A HEALTHY LIFE’ listed here;
So, what are the ingredients for a healthy life?
NUMBER 1: Weight loss
It’s more specific than just losing weight. People who carry excess weight, particularly around the belly, will find their blood pressure reduces as they lose kilos and their waist size decreases. Belly fat is linked to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation.
Please read some of our STORIES to see what Cardiologist’s Kitchen followers say. Many find their new health choices have many benefits, including weight and waist loss. The CardioKit innovation is not about fad dieting or restricting your eating – we LOVE food, and our recipes and common-sense approach to food options are designed to become part of your daily routine.
NUMBER 2: Eat meals
It may sound alien, but the first rule of eating healthy is to feed your body with a diverse mix of good quality ingredients. We find that most of our patients do not eat regular meals; we encourage everybody to eat three consistently timed and high-quality meals a day. The CardioKit team has made this easier by providing a bank of recipes in COOK.
NUMBER 3: Don’t snack between meals
The issue with snacking nowadays is that it usually involves processed food and is often high in sugar or other refined carbohydrates. Snacking is not a ‘no-no’ for everyone. Still, unless your job is physically demanding or you do a lot of cardiovascular exercises, you should stick to eating three good quality meals a day with no extras in between. If you cannot go without a snack and are not feeling sustained before or after your meals, choose a piece of whole fruit or a handful of nuts, as these protect your heart health.
NUMBER 4: Do not count calories
It is a myth that all calories are equal, so it makes no sense to count them as such. The calories in a chocolate bar are not as rewarding to your body as those in beetroot, and we aim to look after our hearts. Please do not focus on calorie counting; instead, follow our ingredients for a healthy lifestyle to eat a diverse and protective diet.
NUMBER 5: Reduce your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake
Asking patients to reduce sugar is unlikely to shock anybody; it has been all over the news thanks to celebrity chef involvement and government initiatives. However, it’s still a difficult thing to control. We are talking about the sugar you add yourself and hidden sugars. Hidden sugars are those that are not always obvious to consumers. For example, products such as fruit juice and squash are high in sugar.
Also, look out for ‘low-fat products such as fruit yogurt and dressings; these are notoriously high in sugar because the food manufacturers use sugar to compensate for the fat reduction. Most people will find they achieve immediate improvements in health and weight by cutting down on sugar.
Refined carbohydrates are starch-based foods that are either naturally low in fiber or have been processed, leading to removing the fiber content. The classics are white flour products (bread), white pasta, potato, and white rice. The problem with these foods is that they are rapidly digested and release sugars.
CardioKit advises swapping your refined carbohydrates for fiber-rich foods like quinoa, porridge oats, sweet potato, roasted squash, and legumes (beans and lentils). Our recipe pages are full of high-fiber meal options and ways to apply ‘carb-swaps,’ which make this change easier – check out this one.
NUMBER 6: Be careful with alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol is among the most common contributors to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation. Reducing alcohol consumption often leads to immediate weight loss and improvement in risk factors. We suggest you consider a large glass of wine or pint of beer as a doughnut to be enjoyed in moderation for your cardiovascular well-being.
NUMBER 7: Eat an array of delicious protective seasonal vegetables and fruit
This is hardly rocket science, but it’s not always easy. We have all been told about our 5-a-day; more recent research suggests it should be more like 10 portions a day. This can include one glass of fruit or vegetable juice but should consist of no more due to sugar levels.
One reason that specific vegetables are so good for you is that they have the potential to lower blood pressure and relax your arteries. The more diverse your intake of fruit and veg is, the better. Good examples include beetroot, rocket, and spinach (as these are high in nitrates), green leafy veg and broccoli, mushrooms, and parsley (both potassium-rich foods), and foods that are rich in soluble fiber like peas, okra, and mango.
NUMBER 8: Go for a walk
It doesn’t have to be a walk; any exercise that raises your heart rate and relaxes your arteries is excellent, and 20-30 minutes can help you realize healthy blood pressure. We recommend walking because it is simple, easy for beginners, and free.
LOVE FOOD – LOVE YOUR HEART – LOVE YOURSELF
NUMBER 9: Don’t fool yourself with low fat
Sometimes called diet foods, low-fat foods are usually not healthy. They are generally low quality and highly processed; manufacturers often use sugar or other unhealthy ingredients to replace the fat. Unsaturated fats from whole foods are all protective and can help you feel full and satisfied between meals. Good examples include nut and seed oils, oily fish, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and good quality rapeseed oil.
The CardioKit advice is to have moderate amounts of good quality dairy, eggs, and animal fat sources in your diet rather than replacing them with sugary foods or refined carbohydrates. Read more about why in our ‘Cooking Cardiologist’ articles – complicated history of fats and butter versus margarine.
NUMBER 10: Avoid artificial sweeteners
These are particularly an issue in products usually high in sugar and have been developed to produce a low-sugar alternative. Yogurt is an excellent example. Instead, it would help if you aimed to eat diverse foods rich in fiber (prebiotics) and good quality whole yogurt (probiotics) to protect your microbiome. What is becoming increasingly evident through research is that there is a link between the bugs in our guts and our health – from mood to heart health and many more things. When you eat, you aren’t just feeding yourself, and the billions of microbes in your gut, and they benefit from certain foods, such as those recommended by the CardioKit team.
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