Heart-healthy meal is not about strict dietary restrictions or depriving ourselves of our favourite foods. It is about reducing the risk of having heart disease. There are steps to work towards heart-healthy eating:
Start with small changes
Trying to change an individual’s eating habit overnight is not realistic. Drastic change leads to giving up on healthy eating and demoralizing. Hence, for a start, plan a healthy diet in a series of small, manageable gradual changes. This helps the individual to sustain the changes with commitment in long term and eventually develop a heart-healthy eating habit.
Modify your diet
In order to improve the way you eat for a healthy heart, you should start to limit various kinds of deep fried / oily foods such as fast foods, fried kway teow, nasi lemak, chicken rice and cholesterol-rich foods such as egg yolk (less than 2 yolks per week), seafood such as crab roe, shellfish.
Your heart-healthy meal should also be high in dietary fibre obtained from variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread. In addition, you need to replace saturated fats which can be found in butter, palm oil, coconut milk and trans fat from pastries, cookies with unsaturated fats from cooking oils (with the healthier choice symbol) such as canola oil, soy bean oil, olive oil and trans-fat free margarine.
Manage your cravings
However, if you crave for unhealthy foods, you need to reduce the portion and the frequency of consumption. Alternatively, you can engage in non-eating activities such as exercise or reading a book to overcome the feeling of cravings.
The ultimate goal of adopting a heart-healthy eating diet is to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Article contributed by Nutrition & Dietetics Department, Mount Alvernia Hospital.
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Note : Please note that health information is provided to supplement the care provided by your doctor. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician if you have any questions regarding a medical condition.