Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – Diet and Exercise for A Healthy Heart
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Your heart is the center of your cardiovascular system. It is involved in many of the daily functions that bring your body to life. So having a healthy heart is vital to your overall health. Two of the simplest yet most important ways to help your heart health are through diet and exercise.
Path to improved health
Improving your heart health is not difficult when you know how to eat and how to exercise. Follow these tips to get the most out of your diet and exercise plan.
The foods you eat can affect your weight, your hormones, and the health of your organs, including your heart. Eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Choose healthy fats. Despite what you may have heard, some fats are actually good for you. When you use fats for cooking, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Avocados are also a good source of monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fats are found in fish, such as tuna and salmon. In general, you should try to avoid trans fats. Trans fats are usually found in processed foods and snacks such as crackers and snack cakes. To see whether a food contains trans fats, look for the words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient label.
- Go whole-grain. Whole-grain breads or pastas are higher in fibre and complex carbohydrates, so choose these breads instead of white breads or regular pasta for sandwiches and meals.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Not only do they add flavor and variety to your diet, but they also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Prepare meat healthfully. Baking, broiling and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare meat and poultry. Trim any outside fat or skin before cooking. Lean cuts can be pan-broiled or stir‑fried.
- Don’t forget beans. Dry beans, peas and lentils offer protein and fibre. Once in a while, try substituting beans for meat in a favorite recipe, such as lasagna or chili.
- Choose low-fat dairy. Go for fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, yogurt, and cheese products.
- Pack in protein. Eat protein–rich foods, including fish, lean meats, skinless poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and beans
What should I NOT eat?
A heart-healthy diet limits some nutrients. These include:
Sodium. Flavor foods with spices or no-salt seasonings instead of salt. Watch out for prepackaged foods, sauces, canned foods, and processed foods. They can all contain a high amount of sodium.
Saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, poultry skin, whole-milk dairy, butter, lard, and coconut and palm oils. Trans fats are found in some desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, stick margarines, and coffee creamers. Look for the words partially hydrogenated oil on the food label.
Added sugar. Sweetened drinks, snacks, and sweet treats are the main source of added sugars Canada. These include sodas, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, cakes, pies, ice cream, candy, syrups, and jellies. Limit these types of foods and drinks.
Alcohol. Limit your intake of alcohol. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and cause you to gain weight. It can also contribute to or worsen heart failure in some people.
How much should I weigh?
Talk to your family healthcare provider about your ideal weight, because every person is different. If you’re overweight, the extra pounds put extra stress on your heart. Losing weight can help your heart stay healthy. If you need to lose weight, remember that losing just 10% of your body weight will reduce your risks for diabetes and heart disease.
Exercise makes your heart stronger, which helps it pump more blood with each heartbeat. This delivers more oxygen to your body, which helps it function more efficiently.
Exercise can also lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), which can clog the arteries and can cause a heart attack. At the same time, exercise can raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol), which helps protect against a heart attack by carrying fatty deposits out of the arteries.
When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can speed up weight loss. Regular exercise also helps you burn calories faster, even when you’re sitting still, because exercise builds lean muscle (which burns more calories than fat).
What’s the best type of exercise for my heart?
Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe more deeply. It makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Aerobic exercise also raises your heart rate (which also burns calories). Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming and bicycling.
How much exercise do I need?
In general, to achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Your healthcare provider may recommend a different exercise regimen based on your health. To prevent injuries, it is best to alternate exercise days with rest days or days you do a very different type of exercise to prevent injuries.
How will I fit exercise into my busy schedule?
There are lots of ways to raise your heart rate during your regular day. Some examples include:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk during a coffee break or lunch.
- Walk to work or park at the end of the parking lot so you have to walk farther.
- Walk more briskly.
- Do housework at a quicker pace and more often (for example, vacuuming every day).
- Rake leaves, mow your lawn, or do other yard work.
Things to consider
Diet and exercise are an important part of your heart health. If you don’t eat a good diet and you don’t exercise, you are at increased risk of developing health problems. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These increase your risk of heart attack and stroke
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Nova Scotia Toll free 1-800-423-4432
Prince Edward Island: (902) 892-7441
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation Website at:
Public Health Services of Canada Website