Here’s a great followup article to our last entry, Getting Fit With Food, where guest author (Kimberley Laws) suggested healthy substitutions for many unhealthy foods. Today’s guest author, Stu Lieberman, does the same but suggests specific food and drink that will help improve our heart health.
Eating a heart healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of delicious food. Here are four easy food and beverage substitutions you can make to boost your heart health, without sacrificing flavor.
In place of vegetable or canola oil, use olive oil. Vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower, and corn oil, as well as canola oil are loaded with polyunsaturated fats which oxidize easily and become rancid. (Many supermarket oils are deodorized, so you can’t even tell when they’ve gone bad.) When you consume oxidized fats, you’re putting your body at risk for inflammation. These types of oils are also loaded with omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6s are essential for good health, most Americans are already getting enough omega-6s in their diets. Too many omega-6s can lead to inflammation.
Olive oil is a great heart healthy alternative because it’s a monounsaturated fat, which helps lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, while supporting “good” HDL cholesterol. Olive oil also contains plant sterols and stanols, also called phytosterols. Phytosterols have a similar structure to cholesterol, so they compete with cholesterol for absorption in your intestines, essentially blocking cholesterol from being absorbed. Unabsorbed cholesterol is eliminated from the body and blood cholesterol levels are reduced.
In place of white wine, drink a robust red. In terms of calories and carbs, red wine and white wine are pretty even. What makes red wine more heart healthy are the antioxidants and polyphenols. Top of the antioxidant list is resveratrol, and red wine is brimming with it. Resveratrol has been found to help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce LDL cholesterol, and prevent blood clots.
In place of chips, try and handful of nuts. Chips are not only high in fat and calories, they’re also loaded with sodium which can have a negative impact on your blood pressure. Eating a lot of chips can also lead to high cholesterol levels because the process to make potato chips creates trans fats, the most harmful type of fat. This heart villain raises levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol while lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Nuts contain heart healthy nutrients such as omega-3s, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and phytosterols. In addition, nuts are low in saturated fat and contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. As an added bonus, nuts also promote satiety, so you’re less likely to overindulge later in the day. Just remember that a few nuts go a long way. You don’t need to eat a bowl full of nuts to reap their heart healthy benefits. A handful is plenty to fill you up and keep you satisfied.
In place of milk chocolate, use dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate has been shown to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As an added bonus, dark chocolate also promotes satiety, so you feel fuller longer and are less likely to overeat later. Milk chocolate contains none of these heart healthy benefits. Chocolate is high in calories, so experts only recommend consuming about a ½ ounce to an ounce a day. Be sure to look for a variety with a high cacao content (at least 70%), because it contains a higher percentage of antioxidants per serving.
About the Author
This article is written by + Stu Lieberman the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Probiotics and Health Store. Assisting people and helping them find quality natural health supplements and probiotics online is what Stu has been doing for over 2 years. Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.
Do you have any healthy food subs you use to satisfy cravings and yet eat healthy? My favourite has to be kale chips (here’s a recipe)!