A Heart Disease Diagnosis – Foods to Avoid
There is a saying, “you are what you eat.” So if you eat unhealthy foods, you are probably unhealthy, inside and out. The foods we put in our bodies have a direct impact on our overall health, particularly heart health. A diet high in sodium, trans fats and sugar often leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. These health issue all contribute to heart disease, which is the second leading cause of death in Canada after cancer. Adopting a healthy diet can substantially reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
According to the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, approximately 1.6 million Canadians are living with heart disease. In 2012, heart disease accounted for 20 per cent of all recorded deaths in the country. The Heart and Stroke Foundation says that 90 per cent of Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart conditions. Given this shocking statistic, adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking preventative measures is key to decreasing the risk of heart disease or failure.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease, also called ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease, is caused by a build-up of plaque in the heart’s arteries. When a person eats unhealthy foods that cause high blood pressure and cholesterol, it can lead to plaque build-up. The plaque presents as a sticky yellow substance made of fatty substances such as cholesterol, calcium and waste products from one’s cells. Plaque leads to the narrowing and clogging of arteries, which slows down the flow of blood.
If a person with plaque build-up continues to eat poorly, this often leads to heart disease and/or a heart attack. Treating a heart attack victim without an AED nearby can be difficult and often leads to death. It’s important to have an AED (such as the Philips Onsite) in close proximity to give the patient a better chance of survival.
Don’t know how to administer first aid or use an AED? We offer a number of First Aid Training Courses in Calgary to groups (corporate or private).
How to Prevent Heart Disease
Prevention is key to reducing the risk of heart disease. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation states that nearly 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by adopting healthy behaviours. Canadians can prevent heart disease by focusing on these five areas:
- Eating healthy;
- Staying active;
- Reducing stress; and
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
Studies show that stress plays a major role in a person’s diet, exercise regime (or lack of) and ultimately body weight. Read our previous blog Stress and Heart Health – Are They Connected? to learn more.
Food and Heart Health
Though it may seem complex, healthy eating doesn’t have to be such a task. By following Canada’s Food Guide, living a heart healthy lifestyle can be delicious and beneficial. Eating a balanced diet coupled with exercise is important to maintaining heart health. Starting young is a great way to build healthy habits.
The guide recommends simply dividing your plate into four balanced sections, which include plenty of vegetables and fruit, protein and whole grains. It also suggests that the beverage of choice be water. Drinking enough water is a key element of healthy living.
Diagnosed with Heart Disease? Here are Foods to Avoid
We all know that eating unhealthy foods can have a negative impact on the heart. But what if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease? Does changing your diet really matter? The short answer, yes. In fact, it’s crucial to change your diet after a heart disease diagnosis. One of the key preventative measures to reverse the damage caused by heart disease is by adopting a healthy diet and exercising daily.
Foods rich in trans fat, saturated fat, refined grains, sodium and sugar should be avoided, when possible. Foods to avoid (this is not a complete list):
- Hard margarine;
- Deep-fried foods;
- Store-bought frozen pizza;
- Cookies, cakes, crackers;
- Too much red meat;
- Processed meat (cold cuts etc.); and
- Ice cream.
Sodium is of particular concern because it is found in almost every food we eat. According to Health Link BC, we all need some sodium, but consuming too much can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. Most adults need only 1500 mg of sodium each day.
With leftover Easter candy laying around, planning heart healthy meals for the family is even more important and can be relatively easy. Read our blog Heart Healthy Easter Recipes for some nutritious and delicious ideas that are good for any time of year! Get the family together in the kitchen and make healthy eating a family affair!