8 Feel Good Foods
The weather has recently perked up and we don’t know about you, but we can’t help but think ahead of Spring and to what Summer could bring!
What pops into your head when you think of Summer? The sun, holidays, beaches, light nights, food? If you’re thinking of the last one, then we’re definitely on the same wavelength.
With the daylight hours lasting longer every day, people have more time to prepare a hearty meal which isn’t only tasty, but healthy for their heart too, and what better time to experiment with your adventurous food side?
Read on to discover our top 8 feel good foods that’ll have your heart shining just as much as the sun!
Fatty fish, such as salmon, lake trout and tuna contain unsaturated fats which can lead to a lower cholesterol level when substituted for the saturated fats found in meat.
The main benefit of fish for the heart comes in the form of fatty acids. Now we know what you’re thinking, these two words put together don’t sound great, but put Omega-3 in front and you’ve found a recommended, healthy source of fat!
Omega-3 fatty acids are the type of unsaturated acids that can reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can cause damage to the blood vessels and then further lead to heart disease and strokes.
A tuna salad or some grilled salmon is sure to get you the Omega-3 fatty acids your heart will love, jazz it up with olives and green beans for an added boost of greens in the style of a French Niçois salad.
When eaten as part of a well balanced diet, nuts, notably almonds have multiple benefits for the heart. As stated previously, unsaturated fats boast benefits for the heart, but the fats found in nuts aren’t the same as fish.
The unsaturated fats found in almonds help to boost your serotonin levels throughout the day which help you get a better sleep at night.
Almonds specifically are also rich in Vitamin E which assists your immune system and gives it a boost.
A handful of unsalted nuts provide you with a heap of hearty goodness, around 24 should do it. You could even use them to top your morning porridge or Greek yoghurt.
Sweet potatoes contain a large amount of vitamin B6 which is crucial as it contributes to breaking down the substance which helps to harden the arteries and blood vessels – this substance is called homocysteine.
The vitamin B6 assists with the flexibility of the walls of the blood passageways and helps to keep them healthy, allowing for free bloodflow.
In addition to this, sweet potatoes also contain high levels of potassium. This plays an important part in lowering blood pressure by eliminating excess sodium and controlling fluid balance. It is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate the hearts rhythm.
A sweet potato is a great source of carbohydrates and a fantastic source of fuel if you’re just done a workout or are planning one later in the day. Team yours with cottage cheese for a boost of protein or fill it with tuna to get your fill of important omega-3s.
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can be very beneficial to the heart. The benefits for the heart come from 70% and above cocoa chocolate.
Who would have thought a sweet treat could have positive effects on your old ticker? One of the flavanols in the chocolate sends signals to the arteries allowing them to relax and further increase blood flow which can reduce blood pressure.
Eating dark chocolate in moderation can also decrease your risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Due to the compounds in the chocolate being protective against oxidation of bad (LDL) cholesterol, this causes less cholesterol to build up and stay in the arteries, which may lead you to a lower risk of heart disease.
Be sure to remember to enjoy this sweet treat in moderation. 2 – 4 squares will provide you with the chocolate fix you crave without going over your recommended daily sugar intake.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, potatoes have zero cholesterol and zero saturated fat. Diets which are low in cholesterol levels and saturated fats may reduce your risk for heart disease.
Potatoes are rich in potassium which help you achieve a lower blood pressure level. They’re also high in fibre which can significantly lower your risk for heart disease.
Despite being given a bad name by being associated with various fast food restaurants, as long as they’re not chips, potatoes do carry some hearty benefits.
Enjoy your potatoes boiled with a salad or baked in the oven with your favourite filling – our current favourite is a homemade 3 bean chilli – hearty and full of fibre!
Blueberries are filled with various compounds which help to widen the arteries, meaning a smoother blood flow around the body.
They’re also rich in multiple antioxidants and are low fat, free from any kinds of saturated fats and are a really good source of vitamin C. Just 100g ofblueberries contains 16% of your Daily Value vitamin C!
With reasons like this, it’s no surprise that they’re linked to a lower risk of a heart attack. Add them to your morning cereal or enjoy them as an on-the-go snack!
Everyone knows the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Well, it turns out that that might just be the truth!
Apples have been linked to lowering your risk for heart disease as they are high in soluble fibre which is the kind of fibre to help lower your cholesterol levels in the blood.
One of the flavanoids in apples, called epicatechin, can help lower your blood pressure. Flavanoids can also help prevent heart disease by reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol oxidation and act as an antioxidant. An apple is a great choice for a mid-afternoon snack, so why not wave goodbye to your desk drawer full of biscuits and instead enjoy the fresh crunch of a Pink Lady!
The type of fat found in olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid which is considered as a healthy dietary fat. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats may mean you reap certain benefits.
Both these fatty acids may help to lower your overall risk of heart disease; for instance, monounsaturated fatty acids may lower your total cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
Even though olive oil is classed as ‘healthy’ it is important to remember that they’re high in calories so use these in moderation when prepping a meal.
Many supermarkets offer an Olive Oil spray, allowing you to control how much you use when you’re cooking, but if you’re planning on using it in a salad, we recommend you use the “Extra Virgin” variety and no more than a tablespoon drizzle.
Importance of Hygiene
We don’t know about you, but all this talk of food has made us hungry! One thing to remember, whether you’re prepping your delicious meal in your own kitchen, work’s kitchen or a restaurant’s kitchen is the importance of food hygiene!
Food that is prepared in an unsanitary and unsafe way can lead to:
Food business owners are required by law to ensure that their employees are trained to a significant enough level of understanding to help them avoid risks when working with food. This understanding can be achieved by undertaking a Food Safety course which comprehensively covers the importance of personal hygiene when working around food, area hygiene, responsibility for food safety and how to keep the food being prepared safe.
Ready, Steady, Cook!
If you’re looking forward to the fun frolics of Summer and the mouth-watering food that comes with it, we want to hear from you! Let us know about your favourite summer foods by heading over to Twitter and Tweet us @imptraining. You never know, some of our foodies might just share their favourite recipes with you.