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Health / Fitness

Five ways to maintain a healthy heart with simple nutrition

Keep the ticker ticking for longer with what you eat

Men are twice as likely to die from heart disease than women are.

Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent diseases with nutrition.” Like much the American inventor did and said, these words have had a lasting impact, and are truer today than ever before. Especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. And with World Heart Day just around the corner (September 29), it’s important to look at ways to prevent heart diseases with nutrition.

According to a study released by the school of health and environmental studies at Hamdan Bin Mohammad Smart University (HBMSU), 36-37 per cent of deaths in the UAE are caused by cardiovascular diseases. And according to the Dubai Statistics Center, the mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases has increased by at least 2 per cent since 2015. And perhaps most alarmingly, the number of men dying from cardiovascular disease are double that of women.

And if that wasn’t enough, 71 per cent of citizens in the UAE have at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor, according to the latest statistics released by the Department of Health.

Bearing all this in mind, nutrition therapy is a crucial intervention component to maintain a healthy heart. And simple changes in your diet can target and circumvent the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases. Here’s some of the simplest ways to get your diet under control.

Men are twice as likely to die from heart disease than women are.

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#1. Reduce portion sizes.

Sounds obvious, but it’s an easy fix. Portion control is the easiest way to change your diet and lead a healthier lifestyle. Excess food on your plate leads to excess calories and eventually to unhealthy weight gain (stored as fat). 

#2. Limit unnecessary fats.

Keep your saturated and trans fats (unhealthy fats from hydrogenated oils, fried food, packaged chips, candy, and processed food) intake to a minimum: restrict is to less than 7 per cent of your daily caloric intake

#3. With carbs, the more complex the better.

Avoid simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs are basically sugars. And though they occur naturally in milk, they tend to contain refined sugar such as candy and soft drinks. Complex carbs – fiber and starch – are found in fruits, vegetables, buts, beans and whole grains. Opt for these over simple, heavier alternatives.

#4. Avoid foods high in sodium.

Sodium is known for its devastating effect on blood pressure: it increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

#5. Go fish.

Each fish more than twice a week. Usually a serving of 120g is enough in one meal,. Preferably go for oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. They are high in healthy fat and omega 3.

And to finish, here’s an obvious one. So obvious that is doesn’t need it’s own number, nor does it need to be included in the list: Just stop smoking.

The writer is the nutrition manager at Fitness First Middle East.

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