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How to boost your heart health

Heart disease or illness is a term that we usually associate with aged men and women. However, recent studies show that thanks to an increase in a sedentary lifestyle all over the globe, lack of regular exercise, high junk food consumption and added stress at the school/workplace, heart related disorders are no longer confined to just one age-group. In fact, teenagers and even young adults are among those who take medication to treat high cholesterol, blood pressure problems and other heart related illnesses.

So what can you do to boost your heart health and does making those small tweaks to your diet actually make a difference? Yes, it does and the first step to eating healthy begins at home:
1) Making a lifestyle change and choosing healthier snacks over processed food helps you keep a tab on both sodium and fat intake. Contrary to belief, healthy food does not have to be boring. For instance, on Saturday nights, swap your calorie laden pizza for a home-made pizza of a smaller size made with all your favourite toppings.
2) Learn to be label savvy. Decoding the nutrition label on a food item is no small feat but it’s important to read between the lines. Many food manufacturers these days position their products in such a way that a health conscious buyer is likely to think that ‘fat reduced’ products or ‘zero sugar’ treats are good for him. Just because, a product claims to have a lower content of fat, it does not mean that it doesn’t contain ANY fat.
3) Stay clear of processed meats. Sure, it gets hard to say no to crispy bacon or freshly made sausages but processed meats are a serious heart killer. They not only contain abnormally high levels of sodium and other preservatives, but also a high content of salt and fat as well. You’re better off enjoying a full Sunday breakfast not more than twice a month.
4) Get fat wise. Saturated fats and transfats are found in almost every fast-selling item on supermarket shelves. However, besides increasing the size of your waist, they also amp up the amount of bad cholesterol already present in your blood. Over time, these fats begin to line the arteries of the heart from inside and eventually result in a heart attack.
5) Cooking at home will do wonders for your body if you are serious about boosting your heart health. While there are many heart friendly recipes readily available on the Internet, you get the double benefit of experimenting with different flavours and being aware of what goes into every dish. Make some small changes like using more herbs, less salt and including a good portion of whole grains with fibre at every meal.
Remember not all fats are bad for you. In fact, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and fatty fish like salmon each contain a good helping of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fatty acids. By combining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and a wholesome diet, you too can maintain your healthy heart.

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