Always, but especially in these days of confinement, one of our main obligations is to take care of ourselves. In addition to physical activity, food is the fundamental pillar with which we can achieve this, since through it we can keep many of the most important cardiovascular risk factors at bay.
Obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol levels are factors that threaten our heart health. But if we follow a healthy diet, which includes the right nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in the right proportion, which basically corresponds to the Mediterranean diet), we will manage to control them.
To be sure that we are following the balanced diet that takes care of our heart, this list of practical tips can help us:
Differentiate between fresh, processed and ultraprocessed products
Knowing how to differentiate to be able to choose fresh and processed products, avoiding the ultraprocessed ones, is one of the first rules that we must keep in mind. As explained by cardiologist Amelia Carro Hevia, from the Corvilud Institute and coordinator of the Spanish Society of Cardiology’s Sports Cardiology Working Group, fresh products are those that reach the consumer directly without or after minimal processing.
The fresher the product (eggs, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and meat) the better it will preserve its components. As for processed foods, they are those that suffer some transformation but keep the raw material such as pasta, bread, olive oil, legumes in jars or frozen vegetables. What characterizes them is that the matrix remains the same raw material and the base of the food has not been adulterated.
However, ultraprocessed products no longer have that original matrix. In order to manufacture them, part of the original food is removed and additives are added to allow their preservation. To recognize them, it is enough to look at the label, since ultraprocessed products contain in most cases salt, unhealthy fats (“trans” and saturated fats), sugar and additives.
Make a shopping list
Good nutrition begins at the market or the supermarket. In them, where we must remember to maintain safety standards to avoid contagion, the key is to avoid buying on impulse, and to achieve this it is a good idea to draw up at home the list of what we must acquire. Taking into account the Mediterranean diet pyramid, which you can see in this link, will facilitate the development of your menus.
Number of portions of each product
The ideal is to consume four or five soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil per day; 5 portions or more among fruits and vegetables per day; three portions of fish per week (one of blue fish); two or three portions of white meat per week and one (optional) of red meat every one or two weeks; low-fat dairy products and, given the current situation, if possible enriched with vitamin D, such as fresh cheese or semi-skimmed milk, daily; a small portion of nuts and dried fruit per day, preferably unsalted and unroasted; and legumes, which we will ideally cook with vegetables, three times a week.
Reducing the use of salt in the kitchen
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we should consume a maximum of 5 grams of salt per day. However, at present we are doubling those figures. To reduce them, a good option is spices, in addition to lemon juice and apple vinegar, which can help us fill our meals with flavor without adding so much salt.
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