The heavier you are, the harder your heart has to work for proper circulation. As you gain body fat, your body has to develop additional tiny blood vessels in order to supply oxygen and nutrients to the fat cells. More blood vessels means an increased workload for your heart, and in order for the blood to reach all of your cells, your heart has to work harder, and it takes more blood pressure. Plus an excess of body fat that collects around your midsection is known to be associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
Here are few foods to include into your diet for reducing body fat for better overall health!
Balanced nutrition is SO important for good health. Eating the right foods, and not eating too much for your body type, is crucial for weight management, which helps your heart health.
Low Fat Proteins
A combination of plant and animal sources will help keep saturated fat intake down while keeping you full & satisfied. These food items are also going to be the lowest calorie choices! Protein from plants is naturally cholesterol-free, and seafood items provide omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for your heart.
- Beans & Lentils: A good source of non animal protein filled with fiber and iron.
- Cottage Cheese: Great source of calcium. Some cottage cheese also has probiotics in it which help aid in digestion and gut health.
- Lean Fish: Fish like tilapia and cod are filled with omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B2.
- Tofu: A great source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.
- Nuts & Seeds: Packed with fiber and heathy fats, nuts and seeds are a great source of low fat protein.
Check out my blog on Best Non Animal Source of Protein to learn more about how switching to a plant based diet doesn't mean your protein intake has to suffer!
Colorful Fruits & Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are rich in critical vitamins and minerals, though relatively low in calories, making them the best choice for meeting carbohydrate needs. The water content of these items will help fill you up, and soluble fiber found in foods like apples and beans are linked to decreased cholesterol (as long as your diet is low-fat). When we focus on "good" carbs, it's easier to stay away from foods that have a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates that amp up calorie count.
Eating produce can make weight management easier since most fruits and vegetables are low in calories compared to other foods, so filling up on these won't throw you off track with your fitness goals.
Sweet Potatoes: This sweet, starchy veggie is packed with beta-carotene (evident in the bright orange color): humans convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin and eye health, as well as boosts the immune system! Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral!
Spinach: Leafy greens are super nutrient-rich, and this one is loaded with vitamin C and is an excellent source of folate. Spinach is a B vitamin which helps maintain healthy DNA. It is also an excellent source of potassium and magnesium.
Bell Peppers: Bright bell peppers contain high levels of vitamin A and C, which helps us heal wounds, fight infections and protect cells from damage. Vitamin B6 present in these sweet veggies are essential for a healthy nervous system! Also, the capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits: studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, and offers pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Berries: Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that may help keep memory sharp as you age, and raspberries contain a compound with anti-cancer properties. All berries are great sources of fiber, which is an important nutrient for healthy digestive function. A variety of berries can improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carb foods or when included in smoothies. These sweet treats also contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which may help decrease wrinkling and other signs of skin aging related to sun exposure.
Pineapple: This tangy tropical fruit is packed with bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And pineapple may help you keep strong! The fruit contains nearly 75% of the daily recommended value of the mineral manganese, which is critical for developing strong bones and connective tissue.
Lemons: Lemons rank above winter squash, lettuce, and sweet potatoes in terms of nutrient density, and the numerous vitamins can make a great ally during cold and flu season by boosting your immune system and keeping infections under control. And although it may seem like this citrus is very acidic, the minerals in lemons actually help to alkalize the blood and reduce overall acidity within the body, drawing uric acid from the joints. This reaction can reduce chronic pain and inflammation when lemons are consumed regularly.
Small Amounts of Healthy Fats
Nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, or a few slices of avocado can boost flavor and nutrition in calorie-controlled meals. Using fats consciously, and sparingly, will help you control appetite, since fats are more calorie-dense than proteins and carbohydrates.
Fats can be divided up into two major categories: saturated (unhealthy fats) and unsaturated (beneficial fats). Of the two, the unsaturated fats are considered better for you, since these fats come primarily from plant foods and can help to keep blood cholesterol levels within a normal range. On the other hand, a diet with a lot of saturated fats (found primarily in animal products like butter, cheese, whole milk and meat), can contribute to a rise in cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats can be broken down into two categories: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
- Monounsaturated Fats: found in nuts, seeds, olive oils and avocados. Good for you when eaten in moderate amounts.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: can be classified as either omega-3 or omega-6 fats. Your body needs both types but requires a proper balance to promote health. The problem for most of us is that we eat too many omega-6 fats (fried foods, snack foods and sweet baked goods) and not enough fish, nuts, seeds and leafy greens that provide the omega-3s.
Be Mindful of Physical Activity
Cardiovascular exercise promotes heart health! Like any other muscle, your heart responds positively to exercise, becoming more efficient at pumping blood and delivering oxygen to your tissues. You also burn calories while you exercise, which can help in your weight-loss efforts, as well as to maintain a healthy body weight. Regular exercise also helps keep blood pressure under control and is a great stress-reliever. Keeping both blood pressure and stress levels in check is important to the health of your heart.
These types of exercises are characterized by their ability to get your heart rate up! They strengthen your cardiovascular system and definitely make you work up a sweat. Cardio is known as an aerobic exercise. During aerobic workouts, oxygen is your main energy source. Your fitness goals should help determine whether you should participate in aerobic or anaerobic exercise. If you’re new to exercise, you might want to start with aerobic exercises to build up endurance.
Since your heart rate is up and beating faster, both oxygen and nutrients are carried to your cells. You are basically helping your body function! Plus cardio workouts help you build a stronger and healthier heart.
The BTES App has a new full 28 minute workout every single day. Workouts ranging from cardio, to strength training to Pilates, it is guaranteed to get that heart rate up and blood pumping! Join now to start crushing your workouts and seeing results!
Keeping a healthy heart is crucial for a healthy life. Eating a diet rich in low fat proteins, colorful fruits and veggies and healthy fats is a sure way to keep your nutrition in check and your heart healthy. By adding in your daily workout, you are taking all the right steps to living a healthy lifestyle!