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Healthy Heart Diet Tips – The Heart Smart Eating Plate

Author: FITivate | Published date: November 24, 2021 | Category: Nutrition
healthy heart diet
healthy heart diet

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There is not a specific need to be on fad diets, not a necessary need to go through the effort of sticking to a specific genre of eating habit patterns or food groups for sustaining a healthy cardiovascular system. All you need to do is to be mindful of what you put on your plate. You can lower your risk of heart disease and its associated risk factors such as excess weight, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and diabetes by simply eating a healthy balanced diet that incorporates a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Adapted from the Singapore Heart Foundations’ heart smart eating concept, this article will discuss the simple tips on how to eat healthy, for a healthy heart!

Objectives

The Singapore heart foundation offers a very organised way for diet program called the heart smart eating plate.

This strategy aims to :

  • Encourage healthy eating habits and take special care when it comes to portion control
  • These recommendations are based on guidelines by the Health Promotion Board, Singapore
  • Avoidance of “super-sized” meal portions, which may lead to excess weight gain.
  • Optimise the nutrient and mineral intake by eating a wide selection of whole foods

Quarter, Quarter, Half Strategy

One of the areas in this healthy eating program is known as the HPB’s quarter, quarter, half strategy

1/4 Plate of Protein

  • Protein is essential in building and repairing muscle tissues.
  • Opt for lean meat, oily fish and plant-based protein.
  • Oily fish is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which are good for heart health. Aim to have those at least twice a week.
  • Most importantly, avoid deep fried or overly seasoned meat.

1/4 Plate of Whole-Grains

  • This is essentially carbohydrates, our primary source of energy. But being from a complex carbohydrate origin, it will be able to provide energy to the body gradually and steadily over a period of time.
  • Whole-grains are packed with nutrients such as fiber which helps get us fuller faster, and is good for weight management. And like mentioned in my previous talk on fiber, it helps with promoting good gut health, manage and prevent chronic illnesses.

1/2 Plate of Fruit & Vegetables

  • Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and something known as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals such as antioxidants, help to protect cells from free radicals that can bring damage to our body.
  • There is a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables. These colours represent different vitamins, phytochemicals, antioxidants, flavonoids etc. Consume a rainbow colour spread of fruits and vegetables weekly to ensure that the body receives the whole host of benefits from the various nutrients. 
  • Aim for 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables per day.

3-5-7 Healthy Heart Principles

The interesting thing about this infographic, is that it actually has another heart healthy eating formulae embedded in it and this is the 3-5-7 healthy heart principles.

3 Highs

High in Fibre, Fresh Whole Food, and Plant-based Protein

  • Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, soy products, beans and legumes.
  • Go for whole lean meat, and not processed ones like bacon or sausages.
  • Consume complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre, especially soluble fibre, helps to lower the cholesterol in your body and manage weight.
  • Diet rich in colourful vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are beneficial to the body and helps you rid of free radicals.

5 Lows

Low in Alcohol, Fats, Cholesterol, Salt, and Sugar

  • Avoid deep fried foods that are high in fat. Choose lean meat and skinless poultry cooked in healthy way (steam, poach, grill, stir fry, bake, boil, stew).
  • Go easy on table salt, MSG, seasonings etc to keep check on your sodium intake. No Himalaya salt is still salt, and cannot be treated as a healthier alternative.
  • Consume sugar-laden food, desserts and drinks in moderation, or best avoid altogether. And no, fructose, brown sugar, maple syrup, they are all still sugar and processed the same way by the body as will white cane sugar. They are not healthier alternatives.
  • Moderate on alcoholic beverages.

Eat 70% Full

If you think your stomach is 70% full, it is probably just right. Do not consume your meals until you are brimming and bloated. Alternatively, you can try to have small frequent meals instead of 3 big meals. This prevents food coma, and discourages your body to store unexpended energy from the food you consume as fat.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we should always take our meals with the priority of protecting our heart! Avoid all the sugary laden, and deep fried foods. Pick up a habit of going for smaller meals with portion control and go for fresh whole foods, shun away from the processed ones.

By : Alvin Ho

B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)

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