‘The food we eat makes a difference’ — this quote by Micheal Greger speaks a lot about a person’s eating habits. In today’s fast-paced world, it is all about quick solutions, including food habits – fast food, canned foods, packaged food and the list goes on. Pertinently, the food we eat also has an impact on our health.
According to a Lancet study, 1 in 5 deaths globally is associated with a poor diet, and diet contributes to a range of chronic diseases in people around the world. Overall, in 2017, an estimated 11 million deaths were attributed to a poor diet. These cases included 10 million deaths from cardiovascular disease.
It is important to adopt a healthy diet to reduce the risk of a person developing heart disease by 35%. The risk is further diminished by 70%, when the person follows a good lifestyle. Interestingly, the diets of average Indians are considered unhealthy and consist of inadequate protein, fruits, and vegetables, according to a new study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Unhealthy food habits: The cause of lifestyle diseases
Today’s fast-paced and stress-filled life has resulted in many unhealthy choices. Increasing work pressure makes individuals opt for faster and easier food options. Fast food or quick meals, though the first preference, may not be healthy and often filled with fat and preservatives. This results in weight issues, thereby affecting one’s overall health.
A recent study that was conducted in top metros shows that 58 percent of people are at heart risk due to stress, followed by 85 percent of people due to belly fat. It is, therefore, important to highlight that in today’s stress-filled environment, there are several benefits to home-cooking; with the most important being – choosing healthy options and having control over the ingredients being used.
While there is an increasing awareness of organic foods, and people are looking for healthier options, there are also a lot of people finding themselves resorting to fast and unhealthy food choices.
As per research, restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and overall calories compared to home-cooked meals. Cooking at home can also be a money-saver, and lets you control the safety and hygiene of food. The best option would be to have small and simple dishes, which are wholesome and healthy.
What are some steps to a heart-healthy lifestyle?
The first element of cooking begins with cooking oil, which is the most basic ingredient. It is used in almost all recipes. In effect, using the right cooking oil can make every meal a bit healthier. A good option would be to choose an oil which can help build immunity, has lesser absorption during frying, and a good balance of all the types of fatty acids, all of which are considered good for heart health.
The most preferred oil would be blended oils, which have a good balance of all three fatty acids – MUFA, PUFA and SFA required in our diets. In simple terms, blending is the process of combining two or more cooking oils in a way that the benefits of both individual oils are present together.
Cooking can also be made easier and simple, with easy-to-cook chopped vegetables that are readily available. One can also get ready-made sprouts; which can be quickly prepared into a dish with a dash of mustard, onions, chilli, curry leaves, turmeric, and salt, sautéed and mixed.
Another healthy breakfast option is green moong dosa. Just soak the green moong overnight, grind the soaked moong along with green chilli, salt and an inch of ginger. Prepare this moong dosa for a quick and nutritious breakfast. There are also several options like fried onions and pureed tomatoes that can help to make a masala base. Refrigerate for later use, so that you can save time.
What are some food tips for your heart?
Another simple change you can make is avoiding excess oil and butter by opting for non-stick cookware. Small changes in ingredients like using less salt or replacing it with low sodium salt can be beneficial for your health. If you are a non-vegetarian, the right choice would be white meat like chicken and fish. Ensure that the chicken is trimmed in order to reduce fat.
One can also opt for eggs in their diet. They are rich in protein and antioxidants. Use more fresh produce rather than refrigerated or frozen meats. More importantly, eat more fresh vegetables and legumes as well as fruits. All these comprise a well-balanced diet.
The last word
These simple tips can save you time and make it easy to eat healthier meals.
Just like the saying goes, a way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. The same can be said about your heart-health, these simple changes can go a long way in caring for your heart.