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Heart Healthy Eating 101

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for heart disease, the single largest killer of men and women in Canada. Based on a recent Canadian Community Health Survey, rates of obesity have doubled for adults and tripled for adolescents over the past two decades.

By adopting a heart healthy diet you can help reduce both your waistline and your risk of heart disease. Registered dietitian Liz Pearson offers the following simple nutrition tips to help keep your heart happy and healthy from a recent report commissioned by Becel:

1. Eat more foods rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are derived from plant sources such as canola oil, walnuts and flaxseed, and marine sources such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines.

2. Limit trans fats and saturated fats

Look for products that are trans fat free and low in saturated fat (two grams or less per serving). Choose low-fat milk products and lean meats such as chicken over higher fat luncheon meats and, when it comes to spreads, a non-hydrogenated margarine such as Becel over butter.

3. Load up on colourful fruits and veggies

The more fruits and vegetables we eat, the healthier our hearts will be. Even just one extra serving daily is linked to a significantly lower risk of heart disease.

4. Eat whole grain, especially the bran

Whole grains, including whole grain wheat, corn, rice, oats and barley, are loaded with heart healthy nutrients and are rich in fibre, antioxidants and minerals.

5. Enjoy nuts every day

Like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, nuts contain a complex mix of nutrients, fibre and beneficial plant compounds which are good for the heart.

6. Eat more beans

Regular bean eaters are more likely to have a healthy body weight, healthy blood pressure and healthy blood sugar levels.

7. Include more flavonoid-rich foods

Flavonoids are powerful plant compounds found in foods like berries, pomegranate juice, cinnamon and dark chocolate. Flavonoids may be powerful protectors of the heart.

8. Slash the salt

Easing off the salt shaker is not enough - as much as 85 per cent of sodium comes from processed food so remember to read nutrition labels carefully.

9. Drink alcohol only in moderation

Moderation is considered no more than two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women.

10. Don't rely on supplements for the answer

Eating whole foods is still the best route to a healthy heart. If you do choose to take a supplement, a multivitamin is the best way to complement a healthy diet.

To learn more about heart healthy living or to download a copy of The Shape of Things to Come: A National Report on Heart Disease, commissioned by Becel, visit www.becel.ca.


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