Your bank holiday tips! WooHoo, Bank holiday Weekend, time with our family, friends, get shopping done, watch some sport, relax, and unfortunately, it’s the usual time we tend to over indulge! During the 12 weeks challenge we hope that we can show that you can still over indulge, and still add heart health benefits. But first let talk about fats the good (like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat can decrease your risk of heart disease), the bad (saturated fats) and the ugly (trans fats) Firstly, your body needs fat, Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth, they also help protect your organs and help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones. Eating fats alone don’t make you fat, eating more calories from fats, proteins, carbohydrates and alcoholic drinks than we use up, makes us fat! Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be what we are aiming to get more of into our diet, and the top 5 will list which these fit it into. Saturated fats should be reduced in our diet, these fats are found in processed meats like sausages, ham, burgers, some cheeses. Trans fat should be totally avoided like fried foods, takeaways, shop bought cakes biscuits etc all foods with hydrogenated oils or fats, as these contain Trans fats, and can increase cholesterol in your blood. Hydrogenated oils are man-made and cheap, so are used in most commercial cooking as it saves the companies loads of money, rather than using a much healthier option, ask your local chip shop or takeaway the next time what brand of cooking oil they use! However, we cannot survive without fats in our diet, our bodies wouldn’t cope, so it makes sense to put the best oil in for maximum health and performance, I bet you put the best grade oil in your car? Top 5 Fats to introduce into your diet: Olive Oil (Mono) Even our wonderful British Heart Foundation did research on this amazing oil and found that found increasing your extra virgin olive oil consumption by 10g a day could cut your risk of cardiovascular death and heart disease by 10 per cent, that is a huge difference! They also stated that extra virgin olive oil is a better quality than ordinary olive oil as it contains high levels of antioxidants also found in grape skins, olives and sesame seeds which are thought to benefit the heart. So through away your old oils if this isn’t in your cupboard and start using this now. Avocado (Mono) Avocado’s produce an oil full of healthy fats, including oleic acid which reduces blood pressure and has shown to increase fat burning to help with weight loss. Avocado like olive oil, can be used in cooking or on salads and dips. The monounsaturated fats found in avocado oil can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and hence your heart when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated fat and trans-fat in your diet. Peanut Butter (Mono) A serving of peanut butter has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. Research shows that eating peanuts can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Natural or Organic are the best as they contain minimum ‘additives and sugars’ 4. Walnuts (Poly) Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple heart benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease. due to multiple cardiac risk factors. They also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid which is anti-inflammatory. Eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to significantly raise blood levels of heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid and may decrease cardiovascular risk, and among those at high cardiovascular risk, increased frequency of nut consumption significantly lowers the risk of death. Fish (Poly) Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, and trout are all high in these wonderful heart healthy oils, and again should be introduced more into your weekly diet. There are two types of omega-3’s that are found in oily fish, such as these fish: DHA (docosahexaeonic acid) and EPA (eicosapetaenoic acid), both have noted heart-health benefits. It is recommended to have two portions of this fish per week, preferably not battered and fried in Hydrogenated oil!!!!! Wine?? Chocolate??? …not yet!!..... With the fact that monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats improve blood flow, and can lower your blood pressure, prevent cholesterol build-up, and constriction of arteries. Then by including fatty acids in your diet will help in reducing heart-related incidents, such as heart attacks than most commonly prescribed medications. Oils rich in these fats also provide essential fats that your body needs but can’t produce itself such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Important again to mention, these are tips to add better choices into your diet, these oils are the best options available to you for improving your heart health, but in moderation with the rest of your diet, they are highly calorific, so again if you do calorie count make sure these are added to your daily allowances. Okay, who would like some Wine? Red Wine – Alcohol free where possible in moderation if not!! I haven’t misled you, I said wine, just didn’t say it was non-alcoholic, but believe me that makes absolutely no difference to the enjoyment of this type of wine, and no hangover!! But if you do err and have the ‘very ‘odd’ glass then you will still get some of the benefits. You see the real health benefits in red wine is found in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, not the alcohol. In fact, the alcohol in red wine may dampen its blood pressure-lowering potential. In a series of studies, the red wine with alcohol and non-alcoholic wine contained equal amounts of polyphenols. It was found that the non-alcoholic part of the wine produced a protective effect on the cardiovascular system and also had anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be useful to prevent other disease such as diabetes. It has also shown consistently that red wine in particular has some pretty impressive cardiovascular health benefits, thanks to the powerful antioxidant polyphenol called resveratrol. Chocolate – Come to the Dark Side Did you know the average person in the UK eats almost 25lb of chocolate a year, 25lb!!! a massive 62,000 calories, and extra 179 calories each day… But… What if it’s good for us? In moderation of course. It’s important to realise that not all chocolate is created equal. The potential health benefits of processed, highly sweetened chocolate are slim to none, probably even less than that! but the health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and quite impressive. Dark being in excess of 70% cocoa, better still get Cacao! There are two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate, flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has been shown to have the highest content of these even more so than polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. The higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of the dark chocolate, the more antioxidants! Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate and has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart. The cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains equal amounts of oleic acid which I mentioned previously is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil. So, there we are I hope this is good advice, drink loads of water, do your 3 walks, eat more vegetables, fruit, grains and healthy fats, all washed down with a glass of non-alcoholic red wine, with a nice square of dark chocolate,…..what could be better. Next week – Peripheral Heart Action Training!! Let’s get that heart pumping. Whatever your fitness levels are you’ll receive some fabulous information on how to become a little more active, and it’s certainly not as scary as it may sound.