Many people do not consider their heart health until they are older. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, two out of three Canadian women have one or more major health factors that elevate their risk for heart disease, like diabetes or menopause. No matter your age, it is always a good time to start managing your heart health.
There are many small changes you can make to improve your heart health. Between regular physical activity and smart meal planning, here are a few ways to keep your heart health on track.
Good fats vs. bad fats.
A great way to manage your heart health is to consider both the amount and type of fat you eat. Substitute bad saturated and trans fats in your diet with good fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats are naturally found in vegetable oils, soft margarines and nuts and seeds. Canada’s Food Guide recommends including a small amount — 30 to 45 mL or two to three tablespoons — of unsaturated fat each day. This could include soft, non-hydrogenated margarine made from plant-based oils.
Get up and get moving:
Living an active lifestyle is beneficial to heart health. The Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
Getting back into the kitchen:
A great way to ensure you have heart-healthy foods available to you each meal is to prepare them yourself. Some prepared foods can be high in calories, sodium, sugar or bad fats, but by preparing them at home, you can make simple substitutions to feel good about what you are eating. Cooking and baking with a soft, non-hydrogenated margarine, like Becel, is a great place to start. In fact, soft, non-hydrogenated margarine has 80 per cent less saturated fat than butter and can be portioned the same as butter.
Living with heart does not have to mean making drastic life changes — rather, it is about making smaller, more manageable changes, with food choices being one of the easiest.