Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Practise healthy living habits

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2017 | 2:11 AMFrances Mahfood
Diet and cardiovascular health are strongly connected.
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Are you thinking about being more active? Have you been trying to cut back on fattening foods? Are you starting to eat better and be more active but having a hard time sticking with these changes?

Old habits die hard. Changing your habits is a process involving several stages. Sometimes it takes a while before changes turn into new habits. You may face challenges along the way, but adopting new, healthier habits may protect you from serious health problems. New habits may also help you look better and feel more energetic.

Whether you feel like change is a world away or just around the corner, you can move closer to your healthy eating and physical activity goals by practising healthy living habits. After a while, if you stick with these changes, they will become a part of your daily routine.

 

EAT RIGHT AND HEAL YOUR HEART

 

Diet and cardiovascular health are strongly connected. Yes, you can eat your way to better health.

n Ackee, breadfruit, yam, sweet potatoes, cocoa, dasheen, plantain, green banana, oats, oranges, tomatoes, string beans, okra, carrots, pumpkin, onions, garlic, limes, callaloo, spinach, parsley, cucumbers, oranges, bananas, coconuts, watermelon, mangoes, and many more foods have one thing in common - they are all single-ingredient foods.

Once you eat foods that are made of one ingredient, and once you eat foods in their natural state, the healthier you will be. Even if you choose a processed food, learn to read the labels. This will ultimately help to heal your heart.

It probably comes as no surprise that heart experts recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Studies have looked at the Mediterranean diet, which is high in:

- Plant based foods, (fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds), healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, ackee, nuts and seeds), lean proteins (legumes, fish from the sea, sardines, tuna, mackerel).

- Limit red meat to twice per month, chicken twice per week, and lean pork. A serving of real cheddar cheese is okay, an egg per day is okay Drink real milk!

Studies have shown that healthy fats and plant-based foods may have heart-protective benefits. Why? It's thought that the compounds in these foods may reduce inflammation which promotes stronger and clearer blood vessels. Isn't that what a healthy heart deserves?

The more fruits and veggies you consume daily, the more fiber in your diet, and as a result better blood-sugar control, better maintenance of a healthy weight, and due to consumption of less sodium, better blood-pressure control. Experts agree that whatever you do, avoid processed foods as much as possible.

As a nation, we need to be more mindful about how we eat and the quality of calories we are putting into our precious bodies. Our kitchens need to be utilised more. Our kitchens are more powerful than our medicine cabinets.

- If your weight is an issue, portion sizes are important. Reduce the portions from each food group, except for vegetables.

 

SAMPLE OF SERVINGS PER DAY INCLUDE:

 

- Starches: 2-4 cups cooked, starchy vegetables, grains, and ground provisions

- Dairy: 1-2 servings, milk (eight ounces) soy milk, almond milk, cheese (one ounce), plain yogurt (six ounces)

- Fruits: 2-3 servings (one cup), limit juices.

- Fats: 3-4 servings healthy fats, two tablespoon nut butter, one teaspoon oil, two teaspoon seeds, one slice avocado pear, half cup ackee

- Animal and other: three ounces per meal, for example (deck of cards), grilled or jerked chicken, fish, mutton, three-quarter cup legumes, (stew peas, lentil stew, black bean burger), gungo peas soup

- Vegetables: unlimited! Eat 3-4 cups daily, get them into your diet! Juice, steam, roast, or just stew them.

- Limit added to sugars to a few teaspoons daily.

- Limit trans fats (processed foods).

 

WALK 30 MINUTES PER DAY

 

Drink half your body weight in ounces in water, for example, if you weigh 160 pounds (drink 80 ounces in water).

Limit sodium to one teaspoon added to food per day, that is 2,400 mg sodium per day. This number does not allow for processed foods that are sometimes high in sodium. Read labels, greater than 140 mg per serving in sodium not recommended for those with high blood pressure.

In summary, food is our bodies' fuel. Fuel it properly; plan, prepare and portion your meals for better health.

- Frances Mahfood is with the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com