Healthy eating can have a bad rap.
Many of us associate healthy eating with restriction. Restriction from eating what we want, when we want it.
Some foods will be beneficial to eat more of, and others will be beneficial to eat less of.
Importantly, there are no off-limit foods.
When it comes to a heart-healthy dietary pattern, here are some key principles:
- Eat lots of plants. For meals, aim for ½ your plate to include vegetables and fruit, and include plant-based protein foods, like beans and legumes, more often.
- Choose whole-grains. Swap in whole-grain bread and wraps for sandwiches, and cook large batches of whole-grains like brown rice, barley or bulgar for sides, or to add to soups or salads all week long.
- Look for dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, walnuts, and canola oil.
- Choose fewer ultra-processed foods, like packaged snack foods and sugary drinks.
- Avoid trans fats, and limit or replace saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fat from sources like nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, including canola oil.
When making decisions about what to eat, try to avoid black-and-white thinking. Understand that no eating pattern works for everyone, and setting up strict rules around eating is sure to backfire.
Finding a balance that works for you, your family, and your lifestyle is key. And don’t forget – optimizing heart health should also include being active, avoiding stress, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding unhealthy behaviours, like smoking, too.