Cholesterol and saturated fat: these are generally the two nutrients that come into play when the topic of conversation is what to eat to have a healthy heart or, perhaps, to get back to having a heart like new after a heart attack.
In fact, for over 40 years, cardiovascular disease prevention strategies through nutrition have focused primarily on danger of the fats present in food.
Today, however, it is increasingly clear that to protect the heart it is not enough to ban butter & co, but it is also necessary replace them with the right foods.
At the same time, the availability of Dietary Supplements a basis of vitamins and minerals that promise to protect heart health.
If there is anyone who hopes to win the battle against cardiovascular disease by arming themselves with multivitamins, however, it is the case to reduce the enthusiasm. In fact, some of them have not proved useful at all.
The best approach, after all, is the one that is also successful in many other cases: ensure a diet as varied and rich in vegetables as possible.
Heart, fat and cholesterol: what to eat
As for cholesterol, it is now generally accepted that eliminate from the table the foods that are rich in them it's a wise choice, but not sufficient to prevent its levels from rising dangerously.
Of course, it is always better not to overdo it with eggs, crustaceans and molluscs, but at the same time it must be remembered that it is mainly foods rich in that raise blood cholesterol saturated fats.
The latter are particularly abundant in foods of animal origin, from meat to milk, including their derivatives (for example cheeses), and have been associated with the increase of the so-called "Bad cholesterol".
However, not all animal fats come to harm; those of fish (in particular of fatty varieties such as salmon, mackerel and herring) are considered allies of the heart both because they favor a reduction of triglycerides (other fats associated with cardiovascular risk) and because they promote a increase in "good" cholesterol.
Even the monounsaturated fats ofolive oil they are considered to be allies of heart health. Other fats of vegetable origin instead they are the worst choice you can make in terms of cardiovascular health.
Some margarines contain in fact trans fats, which are formed during the hydrogenation process used during their production, and which in addition to increasing the bad cholesterol also decreasing the good one.
The case of margarines is an example of how a generic reduction in the consumption of foods containing saturated fats is not enough to protect the heart; rather, it is necessary to replace them with the right alternatives.
Margarines containing hydrogenated trans fats they are not a good alternative to butter, to which extra virgin olive oil should be preferred.
Similarly, not even reduce the consumption of cheese or eggs by increasing that of foods rich in carbohydrates always helps protect the heart.
The Risks of Refined Carbohydrates
When it comes to carbohydrates, the increased risk to the heart is above all the high consumption of foods based on it refined grains (such as white flours) and di foods and drinks rich in simple sugars (like sugary sodas).
Replace saturated fats with refined carbohydrates it does not improve the ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol - an indicator of cardiovascular risk.
However, carbohydrates are not to be universally considered enemies of the heart. Those present in whole grains and their derivatives they exert a protective effect on cardiovascular health; it may be enough to eat 1 or 2 more portions a day to reduce the risk to the heart and arteries by 10-20%.
The minerals that are good for the heart
As for minerals, on the other hand, potassium, magnesium and calcium are considered essential for pressure control - a known risk factor for heart health.
Furthermore increased calcium intake is associated with lowering cholesterol, while a magnesium deficiency it makes it increase.
In reality, however, the minerals that have been associated in some way with heart problems or cholesterol metabolism are also others; how to take them all?
As mentioned, the best strategy does not seem to rely on food supplements. A recent analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that there is currently no evidence of their usefulness.
Better to try to satisfy your needs with the food:
> on potassium it is found in many foods;
> on magnesium it is abundant in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and whole grains;
> on football it can be taken either with dairy products or by eating fish such as sardines with all their bones or, once again, with dark green leafy vegetables.
Cooking for the heart: the basic principles
To protect heart health it is therefore necessary to practice a few basic rules in the kitchen:
> reduce the consumption of foods rich in saturated fats (meat and milk derivatives) by replacing them with fish rich in good fats (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, swordfish, tuna) and using theextra virgin olive oil instead of butter and margarines containing hydrogenated fats;
> do not exceed the consumption of foods rich in cholesterol: no more than 4 eggs per week are allowed;
> prefer cereals and derivatives in their version integral;
> eat plenty of vegetables, varying your choice without forgetting the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables;
> reduce the consumption of salt, ally of hypertension.
All these tips can also be useful for fine-tuning post-heart attack recipes, always remembering to strictly follow the recommendations received from your doctor.