Health

Protect Your Heart: Self Care Through Healthy Diet with Cooking Cardiologist

June 19, 2018

This post was sponsored by Boston Scientific as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

What comes to mind when you think of self-care? Skin care rituals, exercise, relaxation, meditation? These are all common self-care activities but what about your daily meals? Self care starts with the food that you choose to nourish and fuel your body with each day. Every food you eat has a specific role in your overall health and the way you feel each day. Eating a diet rich in colorful, balanced and healthy foods is the foundation of all self-care

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When you live an on-the-go lifestyle and are looking for quick and convenient meal options with fast food and a variety of processed foods readily available, it’s incredibly easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits. It’s important to be aware that these foods especially when in combination with certain risk factors can cause detrimental effects to your health over time. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. CAD occurs when the blood vessels of the heart become narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart.[i] A particularly worrisome aspect of CAD is that the symptoms are somewhat broad (pain, shortness of breath, fatigue) and may not be experienced by all. Those with CAD may also be at risk for heart attack.[ii] Various risk factors van increase your risk for CAD, including older age, being male, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity and high stress.[i] Being aware of the risk factors and taking measures to change them when possible as well as regularly consuming heart healthy foods and exercising are all proactive ways to help stop the development of this disease.

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CAD may be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes and treatment options, with medications often being a first line of treatment.[iii] The main goal of treatment is to clear or unclog the arteries in order to restore blood flow to the heart. In some cases, surgery may be needed. However, there are other options too; including percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a minimally invasive procedure that is used to manage CAD. Regardless of treatment plan, maintaining overall wellness and a healthy diet are the essential to optimal heart health.

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While you may not be initially motivated or inspired to alter your diet to incorporate heart healthy foods, knowing that you don’t have to give up the foods you love is key. There is literally a healthy swap for just about any food or recipe, so you can eat what you enjoy guilt free! Some swaps I regularly include in my family’s diet are almond milk, avocado oil for cooking/baking, sprouted whole grain bread, oats for cereal, beans as a meat replacement, avocado in place of mayonnaise, and maple syrup for refined sugar. Almond milk (which you can even easily make yourself) is a 1:1 substitute in baking and has a flavor profile very close to skim or low fat dairy milk. Avocado oil is rich in heart healthy oleic acid and is extremely versatile in cooking and baking with a high smoke point. Dietary fibers from whole grains in bread or oats are additional beneficial foods for the heart as well as for satisfying hunger. The majority of my family’s dinners are meatless and beans are an ideal inexpensive and heart healthy meat replacement. Garbanzo beans/chickpeas are the beans we use most frequently as they can be utilized almost seamlessly in traditional chicken recipes (chickpea caeser salad, chickpea salad sandwiches, chickpea noodle soup, buffalo chickpea wraps). Avocados are another advantageous swap to be aware of as they can be used as mayonnaise in sandwiches or mayo-based salad recipes or mashed on top of toast instead of butter. Maple syrup (in moderation) is a great swap for refined white sugar since it has a low glycemic index and contains antioxidants. Lastly, try to make and prep your own healthy ‘fast food’ to have on hand when you need a quick and convenient snack or meal so you aren’t tempted by unhealthy options. Some heart-healthy swaps and recipes may not be right for everyone. You may want to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet. You should follow your doctor’s guidelines or dietary restrictions for heart disease.

HeartHealthyBeats.com, developed by Boston Scientific, is an excellent resource to learn more about CAD as well as gain some new delicious heart healthy recipes. Check out the video below to see how to make a flourless + refined sugar free chocolate torte!

[i] Coronary Artery Disease. MedlinePlus. NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/coronaryarterydisease.html. Accessed March 2018.

[ii] What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)? Boston Scientific. Available at: www.ispciforme.com. Accessed March 2018.

[iii] How is CAD Treated? Boston Scientific. Available at: www.ispciforme.com. Accessed March 2018.

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