Of course we know that keeping fit and exercising is good for our hearts but it’s diet which plays the greatest part in our overall health.
We are all aware that sugary and fatty foods, and also alcohol, can be bad for our health. But what effect does it have on our hearts ?
Eating too much sugar and fat can be a cause of weight gain. If you’re overweight or obese you’re more likely to develop coronary heart disease (and diabetes) than someone who is a healthy weight.
Removing all sugars and fats from our diet is difficult because our brain rewards us for eating them by releasing pleasure chemicals such as Dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behaviour. When a certain behaviour causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable “high” that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behaviour. Scientists call this feel good factor after eating ‘ingestion analgesia’, which literally means pain relief from eating.
Most foods contain several different types of sugar (foods such as fruit, vegetables and milk contain sugar within their structure but these foods also contain a lot of useful nutrients and are, therefore, not ‘free sugars’), and it’s these free sugars and saturated fats which are added to foods that people need to cut down on to help prevent heart disease and also diabetes. Foods like :
- Ready meals, cakes and sugary, fizzy drinks
- Sugars and fats you use while making or preparing your own food
- Honey, syrup and fruit juice (even unsweetened fruit juice) are also free sugars
- Saturated fatty acids found in butter, cream and fatty cuts of meat
So how do you cut out the sugar and fats ?
- Do you add sugar to your breakfast cereal or to sweeten hot drinks? Cutting out just a teaspoon of added sugar every day can make a difference (remember, honey and syrup are free sugars too). Here’s an example of what cutting out a teaspoon of sugar more than once a day in your tea and on your cereal means.
Sugar saved in 3 months: 90 teaspoons
Calories saved in 3 months: 1,440 calories (that’s the equivalent of 6 standard size chocolate bars) *
- Swap sugary cereals for wholegrain cereals full of fibre (don’t forget to check the nutrition labels for sugar content)
- Poach eggs, don’t fry them
- Grill sausages and bacon
- Eat plain yoghurt as opposed to flavoured ones
- Replace butter with an olive oil spread
If we made all of these small changes to our diets then in 3 months we could
Save 2,105 teaspoons of sugar
Consume 33,593 less calories ( = 141 chocolate bars) *
Losing weight can help reduce the risk not of coronary heart disease (also stroke, fatty liver and diabetes and much more). It’s always good to be mindful of your diet to help your heart health. If you need a hand to change your lifestyle for a healthier heart, I’m here to help.
(* Statistics courtesy of the British Heart Foundation)