If you think that your biggest health threat is breast cancer, you need to think again. Not that you shouldn't worry about cancer, but you'll be surprised to know that it isn't cancer that is responsible for the deaths of a third of women worldwide each year. It's heart disease!
With 8.6 million women dying worldwide each year from heart disease and the fact that women's heart attacks are likely to be twice as fatal as men's, you certainly need to take some precautions. And if you are a person with limited mobility, the importance of taking care of yourself can’t be stressed enough! That’s because lack of physical activity poses a great risk of developing heart disease.
If you use a wheelchair or a mobility scooter but can perform light exercises, it’ll certainly keep your heart healthy. But if you can’t exercise, you can have a healthy heart by eating right.
So don’t let the facts scare you! Here are some tips on eating right that you can use.
Limit Salt Intake
Salt is a treasured food staple and it may seem impossible to limit eating it as you need salt to flavor your food. But eating too much salt or sodium contributes to high blood pressure.
As high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, reducing the amount of salt you eat can directly benefit your heart. Ideally, adults shouldn't eat more than a teaspoon of salt a day. While this may seem like a lot less, there are other ways to reduce your salt or sodium intake.
> Use salt substitutes or zero or low sodium versions of condiments. When buying packaged foods, look for unsalted options.
> Cook food with fresh ingredients so that you get better taste without having to enhance flavor by adding salt.
> Make use of herbs and spices like basil, oregano, chives, thyme, bay leaves, allspice, pepper, etc. to add flavor to your food instead of reaching for the salt shaker.
> Do stay away from canned and processed foods as they have a high amount of sodium added. Salt is also added to poultry and other meats while processing so buy unsalted cuts of meat and cook them at home.
Lower the Cholesterol
Cholesterol isn't completely bad; it helps your body produce hormones, build new cells, and also insulates your nerves. The liver is able to produce all the cholesterol needed by the body but eating certain foods causes cholesterol to build up and put the heart at risk of developing heart disease.
Cholesterol comes in three forms- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is the bad one as it is the main source of plaque that clogs the arteries, and HDL is the good one helping clear the blood of cholesterol. Another type of fat found in the bloodstream is triglycerides and high levels of the same are linked to heart disease.
Walking, running, swimming, or performing aerobics can help you reduce weight and lower cholesterol. But if you need to use a folding scooter or a wheelchair to get around and can’t exercise, eat foods that will help lower cholesterol in your body.
> Eat foods fortified with stanols or sterols. These substances are found in plants and they prevent the absorption of cholesterol.
> Unsaturated fats, protein, and fiber found in fruits, vegetables, oily fish, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and oatmeal are great at reducing cholesterol.
> Avoid eating foods like fried potato chips and packaged cookies as these contain high levels of trans-fats and saturated fats.
> Eat fresh foods as much as possible as labels on packaged foods can be deceiving even if they are marked as cholesterol free.
You certainly know that a high-fiber diet adds bulk to the food, aids digestion, and improves bowel movement. Eating a fiber-rich diet has many other benefits too. Fiber can lower LDL and blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and the risk of diabetes and heart disease too!
And how can fiber do all of this? One theory is that fiber binds with cholesterol in the intestines thereby preventing it from being absorbed into the blood stream. Further, switching to a high-fiber diet mean you'll be eating food that is lower in calories. Fiber-rich foods also help you feel full for longer so you won't crave unhealthy snacks.
> Eat more whole grains than refined. Refined grains do not have the outer layers- bran and germ which means you lose out on the health benefits of eating grains.
> Increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and are loaded with other nutrients and vitamins too. Eat beans a few times a week too. They are not only rich in fiber but plant protein too.
>An easy way to boost your fiber intake is by adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to casseroles, soups, or smoothies.
People with limited mobility are more prone to becoming obese and developing heart disease. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or are worried about being diagnosed with the same, all you need to do is start eating right and you’re sure to be fine.
With the tips mentioned here, you now know the right things to do for your heart. So go ahead, eat healthy and live healthy!