Erica Desai loves spending time in her kitchen preparing delicious meals for her friends and family. She also works in the heart center of a top hospital, and knows how food can affect heart health as well as overall health. It is important to moderate foods that are unhealthy, such as saturated fats and sugars. It is okay to consume these foods every now and then, but the bulk of your meals should be heart healthy.
Saturated fats are fat molecules that are filled with hydrogen molecules, meaning they do not have any double bonds between carbon molecules. This affects the way your body breaks them down and causes a negative impact. This type of fat is mainly found in animal products, such as meat and dairy products. When you eat these foods, the saturated fats raise the level of bad cholesterol in your blood. If you have high cholesterol, then it is likely that your arteries are developing plaque, which can lead to a heart attack.
Sugars also have a negative impact on your heart. Sugar breaks down into glucose and fructose. Fructose is processed through the liver, and your liver will first store these molecules as glycogen for later use. However, once your liver has reached its capacity for glycogen, it will then turn the fructose into fat. This will cause fatty organs and obesity. Obesity is the number one cause for heart disease.
A way to maintain long term heart health is to cook healthy meals. When you are working out your weekly meal plan, make sure to stick to lean meats. Lean meats do not have the same levels of saturated fats that beef, lamb, and pork have. You should also keep your butter and cheese use to a minimum.
A little bit of each is okay, but don’t smother every meal with cheddar. Rather than sauté your meats and vegetables in butter, choose a plant based oil. Olive oil is a great alternative because it is not a saturated fat and gives your food a great flavor.
If you are worried about your cholesterol, there are a few foods that you can add to your diet that can actually help lower your cholesterol. Consuming soluble fiber is one of the best weapons against cholesterol. Beans, especially pinto and garbanzo, are a great source of soluble fiber. Make some pinto beans as a side dish, or add some garbanzo beans to your soup for a heart healthy meal. Another choice is apples.
Either eat one as a snack, or bake some sliced apples sprinkled with a little bit of cinnamon as a healthy dessert. Nuts and seeds are a great source for heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Throw a handful of nuts into a salad or a stir fry to keep your heart pumping strong.
Erica Desai loves cooking meals that are both delicious and heart healthy.