Healthy hearts run on plants

Ten dietary tips to help you dodge disease and death.

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(Photo: Sanitarium)

When it comes to healthy eating, we’re a big fan of getting the most bang for your buck. While we can agonise over every little thing we put in our mouths every day, the truth is that some behaviours have a much bigger effect on our health than others. A great example of this is recent research from the US that looked at more than 700,000 subjects who died as a result of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Almost half of these deaths could be attributed to just 10 eating habits. So what were the top 10? Well, they fell into one of two categories:

They were eating too much:

  • Salt: 9.5% of deaths
  • Processed meats: 8.2% of deaths
  • Sugary drinks: 7.4% of deaths
  • Unprocessed red meats: 0.4% of deaths

Or too little:

  • Nuts and seeds: 8.5% of deaths
  • Omega-3 fats: 7.8% of deaths
  • Vegetables: 7.6% of deaths
  • Fruit: 7.5% of deaths
  • Wholegrains: 5.9% of deaths
  • Polyunsaturated fats: 2.3% of deaths

So how do you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to protecting your heart? The simplest way is to fill your diet with minimally processed plant foods. You’ll find yourself eating plenty of the foods many of us eat too little of and eating less of those that harm our health but feature too prominently in modern diets. Big benefits don’t have to come from complicated changes—start prioritising plant foods today!

3 ways to get nuts and seeds in your daily diet

The 3pm hunger buster. A good goal to aim for is 30g of nuts at least five days a week. 30g is roughly a small handful, so why not grab that small handful when your stomach’s growling mid-afternoon.

Power up that smoothie. Did you know that chia seeds form a gel-like texture when mixed with water? Try a tablespoon in your next smoothie to add a satisfying texture, a shot of healthy fibre and plant-based omega-3 fats.

Go to ground. Natural nut butters are simply ground-up nuts without anything else added. Try making your own by grinding your favourite nuts to a paste in a food processor and spreading on a tasty wholegrain bread.