Lifestyle

The 'Love Your Heart Diet' can help lenghten your life

Eat food healthy for your heart and your heart will serve you well into old age.
Eat food healthy for your heart and your heart will serve you well into old age. Alex Croft

ADVICE about what to eat for your heart can be confusing.

Most of us know that hamburgers and fries aren't great, or that too much beer won't do you, or your heart, any good.

But did you know that vegies actually improve your heart health because they fight bad cholesterol, or that cocoa and red wine get a big tick?

Or that going vegetarian may dramatically increase your chances of seeing your 100th birthday?

Here's how to stay out of the cardiologist's office.

 

Eat up to 15 different plant foods a day

For good health five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day are minimal.

But Australian health and longevity specialist Dr John Tickell recommends nibbling on 15.

Fruit and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants that fight free radicals (caused by pollution, junk food or stress) that attack the linings of blood vessels and increase LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Avoid trans-fats

There's another type of fat, besides saturated fat, that can increase your risk of heart trouble.

It's called trans fat and because it raises levels of LDL cholesterol, the Heart Foundation recommends you avoid it.

So if you regularly buy bakery products or fast foods such as meat pies or deep-fried foods, it's time to switch to healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and fish or wholegrain products.

Trans fats are also present in some margarines so check the label before you buy.

Go for omega-3s

According to the CSIRO, the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids that protect the heart and have benefits for blood clotting and blood vessel function are fish and fish oils.

Aim for at least three servings a week.

The polyunsaturated fats found in fish are also found in flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds and grapeseed oil.

Other good fats are monounsaturated fats such as those found in almonds, walnuts and olive oil.

Include them in salads and use the oil for cooking.

Drink up

The Copenhagen Heart Study, which followed 13,000 Danes for 12 years, found those who drank two to three standard (100ml) glasses of wine had 50% less heart disease and cancer.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal in 1995. However, cardiologist Dr Ross Walker cautions: "You do not get double the benefit from double the dose!"

A fantastic, non-alcoholic, antioxidant-rich addition to your diet, is tea. First-picked, oolong tea, from a health food store or Chinese grocer, is reputed to have the highest levels of heart-healthy antioxidants.

But any tea is good. Let it steep for three minutes for maximum benefits.

Eat your beans

All the dried pea and bean family - baked beans, lentils, split peas, chick peas, soy beans are high in soluble fibre which is known to improve blood cholesterol levels and diabetes control, according to the Victor Chang Research Institute.

Legumes can be added to soups and stews and salads, or a favourite, chickpeas, used to make a delicious hummous.

Consider becoming a vegetarian or going Mediterranean

Vegetarians have 30% less heart disease than meat eaters, says Dr Walker. But if you must eat meat, the evidence points to a Mediterranean diet - rich in extra virgin olive oil, pasta and rice, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts - as being the best for both heart health and preventing cancer, he says.

Eat small amounts of dark chocolate

A 2000 study by the University of California, suggested that polyphenols - which occur naturally in cocoa - may help to maintain cardiovascular health.

They may also relax blood vessels, making blood flow more efficient and reducing the strain on the heart and reduce the formation of blood clots.

What's more, the main fat in chocolate, stearic acid, has been shown to exert a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. The researchers said positive effects were noticed after eating a chocolate bar weighing 35g.

Don't Forget About Love

There is now some evidence that love may affect heart health.

A University of Texas study showed that rabbits who were shown love and affection were able to avoid clogged arteries despite being fed a high cholesterol diet.

In other American research, people lacking in social and community support were more than three times more likely to die compared to others which strong social connections.

This study involved 7000 men and women in California.

Another research project by the VA San Diego Healthcare System concluded that women with heart disease and small social circles die at twice the rate as those who have more friends.

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  diet, food, health, heart, lifestyle

Recommended Reading




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

OPINION: How to prepare your child for day care

Your kids will love childcare, but it may take some adjusting.

GETTING your child ready for day care is vital.

MUMS' TOP 5: 'Musts' to have on your childcare checklist

SOME FALL SHORT: Organisations that train childcare workers will be subjected to extra audits.

SENDING your child off to day care can be daunting and confusing.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Joyce slams Grafton Hospital cuts claim: ‘It’s a load of BS’

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce reacts as he visits Macadamia Processing Cooperative with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull near Ballina in the seat of Page, Friday, June 17, 2016. Jobs will again be the focus as Malcolm Turnbull heads to the NSW north coast, but this time with a $25 million pledge. The coalition hopes the $25 million investment will give businesses incentives to invest and help boost employment in the region. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

Deputy PM's frustration at wild campaign assertions

Distance dictates cancer survival rates in regional areas

Analysis shows how big gap is for accessing treatment

Grafton assault-accused addicted to ‘ice’

Grafton Courthouse Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Charge matters had all the "hallmarks of an ice-related incident"

Latest deals and offers

Vivid timelapse

Screenshot from timelapse of Sydney's Vivid Festival

This timelapse shows Sydney's Vivid Festival

Nationals announce $10m for truck washes

The National party brought state and federal representatives to announce a joint...

Bowen Therapy

No Caption

An introduction to the Bowen technique.

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?