Five Heart Healthy Food Swaps

Here are five attainable ways to add more nutrient-dense foods into your diet, simply by swapping out a few staples.

Eating healthy can be a challenge when you run into things like the midnight munchies, dining out and on the go, or when you just don't know where to start. A pantry overhaul can be especially scary! So, to avoid complete overwhelm or regrets after a sudden snack attack, I always say it's best to start with baby steps and remember to be gentle with yourself if you slip up, we all do it, we're all human. One attainable step to eating healthier is beginning to switch out your staples for more nutrient-dense foods.

Here are five easy swaps to start making!

1. Swap out inflammatory and unstable omega-6 oils (vegetable, corn, sunflower, canola, soy), for monounsaturated Avocado Oil or Olive Oil. These oils are much more stable and can withstand higher heats. Avocado Oil has a smoke point of 520°F, and high-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a smoke point of 405°F, making them much safer options for cooking. Heating food and oils slower on a lower temperature rather than quickly over high heat is also best, as it prevents damaging good fats, enzymes and other nutrients.

2. Swap out the chips for nuts, seeds, veggie sticks or olives! Instead of filling up on refined salt and trans fats, nuts, seeds and olives contain health-promoting mono and unsaturated fats. You can lightly salt your nuts and seeds with mineral-rich Himalayan or sea salt. If you're concerned about salt intake, rinsing olives can reduce the sodium by 2.5%!

3. Swap out the sugary treats for fruit or naturally sweetened indulgences. Refined sugars (white sugar, corn syrup, glucose-fructose) have no nutritional value whats so ever. They are empty calories that cause blood sugar spikes (insulin to rise), inflammation and gets stored as fat if it's not burned right away. Sugars in fruit are absorbed slower due to the fibre and other nutrients in the fruit. Natural sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey are lower on the glycemic index. They don't spike blood sugar as quickly due to their constitution of other vitamins, minerals and fat. Artichoke is also a great food to add to help curb overindulging in the sweets as it plays with taste buds and makes everything you eat after taste sweeter!

4. Swap out the romaine and iceberg lettuce for dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard and beet tops. While romaine and iceberg lettuce are excellent sources of water and do offer some nutritional value, dark leafy greens are much higher in antioxidants and B vitamins that help protect the heart and arteries.

5. Swap out refined grains and flours for whole grains. Much like refined sugar, refined grains and flours, such as white flour, white bread and white rice, don't hold much nutritional value. They are significantly lower in fibre, also causing blood sugar levels to rise far quicker. Whole grains contain much more fibre, which helps to slow the absorption of the carbohydrates, resulting in a more steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. Keeping blood sugar levels steady, helps to keep the hormone insulin down, which, as we know, elevated levels of insulin are associated with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

There you have it, five simple food swaps to keep your heart healthy!

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