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Heart-Healthy Choices: PRESS Healthfoods for Valentine's Day

So, which foods are good for heart health and which are best to avoid? Dr Jane Leonard, one of the resident doctors on Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies, tells us everything...

By Dr Jane Leonard - GP & COSMETIC DOCTOR

Dr Jane Leonard is a GP and cosmetic doctor, who you may recognise as one of the resident doctors on Channel 4’s recent flagship TV show, Embarrassing Bodies, and we asked for her take on the connection between diet and heart health.

Diet and Heart Health

The best way of thinking about eating for your heart and cardiovascular health is in 2 ways:

  1. Foods that help lower cholesterol
  2. Foods that maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular risk factors like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The Types of Cholesterol:

There are two types of cholesterol; LDL’s (low density lipoprotein) and HDL’s (high density lipoprotein).

What Are LDLs?

LDL’s are known as bad cholesterol; they build up in the walls of our blood vessels causing plaque formation which narrows the vessels, increases blood pressure and makes the vessel more likely to be blocked.

And HDLs?

HDL’s have the opposite effect; they help to reduce bad cholesterol levels and in turn help reduce blood pressure and arterial plaque build up.

How to Improve Good Cholesterol Using Diet

The way to improve good cholesterol in our diet is by eating “good fats”, like Omega 3 fatty acids which are found in foods such as:

  • Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and tuna.
  • Nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats like chicken, turkey
  • Legumes like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed beans.

High LDL Foods to Avoid:

Saturated fats found in fried foods, high fat dairy products, fatty meats like sausage and bacon, hydrogenated fats and processed foods.

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