An ideal heart healthy weight loss diet is defined as eating nutritious meals, having daily exercise, being a non smoker, having a BMI of 21-25 and drinking less than 21 units of alcohol per week. Easier said than done, some may say.

Heart disease is associated with being overweight, partly due to high blood pressure and the extra pressure put on the heart to circulate blood. Losing a small amount of weight can have huge benefits to becoming ‘Heart Healthy’.

Diets high in processed, sugary foods, salt, carbohydrates and trans-fats, but low in fibre, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, protein and antioxidants may lead to weight gain and poor heart health. Lifestyle choices affect heart health as well, being sedentary and very stressed can be detrimental. Smoking is an added stressor as well as an anti-nutrient.

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Healthy hearts need magnesium (nuts and seeds), B vitamins (whole-grains, meat, eggs, avocado), essential fatty acids (Fish) and cardio focussed exercise.

Protein is so important whilst dieting, it increases satiety- imagine not feeling hungry on a diet! Your blood sugar levels will be balanced throughout the day which will stop the 11 o clock biscuit cupboard raid at work. Your energy levels will be maintained so you have energy at the end of a long work day to get out and exercise.

Combine your new best friend, protein, with some fibre and you are one step closer to a healthy heart. Add in the following 5 day meal plan and you will be losing weight and feeling great.

Breakfasts:

– Porridge oats, made with milk- add chia seeds and berries once cooked
– Omelette filled with vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, spinach, feta cheese, onions, tomato)- experiment
– Poached, scrambled or boiled eggs with wholegrain toast with butter (never margarine) or oatcakes
– Muesli (sugar free) or granola topped with natural yogurt, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts
– Baked beans (Whole Earth) on wholemeal or rye toast

Lunch

– Green salad (lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cucumber, avocado, tomato, peppers, papaya, pineapple- be creative). Add protein of your choice- grilled chicken, mackerel, tuna, sardines, prawns, beef strips, lentils, beans, hard boiled egg, pine nuts, chickpeas, quinoa, olive oil salad dressing
– Wholemeal pita filled with salad and hummus or guacamole or chicken, feta and tomato
– Sandwiches- always whole wheat bread, choice of filling to include protein– tuna, prawns, egg and cress, chicken, cottage cheese
– Grilled mackerel (or tinned sardines) on wholemeal or rye toast
– Baked egg and avocado

heart healthy weight loss diet_2

Dinners:

– Loaded soups- soups full of protein and vegetables e.g. Bacon and lentil, Chicken and vegetable, potato leek and lentil, clam chowder, Butternut and almond, Minestrone, oxtail. Home made or bought in a carton/ box
– Grilled chicken/ fish with steamed vegetables and wholegrain rice
– Bean Bolognese made with mixed beans, carrots, mushrooms, onions and chopped tomatoes served with brown basmati rice or quinoa or gluten free pasta
– Chicken stir fry including lots of vegetables (lightly fried in olive oil with tablespoon of water)
– Baked/steamed fish with a baked sweet potato and green vegetables.

Snacks:

– A small pot of organic natural yogurt (Yeo Valley or Rachel’s) with fresh fruit
– A boiled egg- preferably free-range and organic
– A piece of fruit with a small handful of mixed nuts and seeds (for example pumpkin, sunflower, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts)
– A small pot of hummus with vegetable crudités (carrot, celery, peppers etc)
– A couple of oatcakes (Nairns) with nut butter, hummus or cottage cheese

Sweet ideas:

– Yoghurt, berries, nuts and honey
– 2 blocks dark chocolate (80%) and a handful of almonds
– Baked apples with cinnamon and walnuts
– Frozen natural yoghurt with crushed walnuts and berries- guilt free ice-cream!
– Handful of cherries and brazil nuts

Reduce:

– Alcohol, fizzy drinks, sugary squash, caffeinated drinks
– Sugary, refined foods (biscuits, cakes, white bread, pasta)
– Limit saturated fat and preservatives (pies, take-away, baked goods etc)

Lifestyle:

– Reduce/ quit smoking
– Exercise 30 minutes every day- get creative with this- walk, run, spin, hula hoop, swim, trampoline, Pilates, dancing. Look around in your local area and have fun and relax.

To follow an eating plan and not get bored, it’s important to mix and match and not get stuck in a routine. Eating should be enjoyable. Don’t deprive yourself, if you feel hungry, have a protein rich snack. Drink 2L of water everyday, get moving and get ‘Heart healthy’!

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