Paleo is all the craze right now. Maybe you are already an avid follower, maybe you are just curious. Either way, the question has probably crossed your mind:
How about Paleo Diet and heart health?
Is Paleo Diet bad for your heart?
Here is a simple answer: Paleo Diet is great for your heart if you do it right.
What is Paleo diet?
Paleo or Paleolithic diet is based on the premise that we are genetically identical to the people of the Paleolithic era, the hunter-gatherers. This means our optimal diet should mimic theirs. That means you should only eat what you could hunt or pick and leave out foods that have to be farmed. Of course, your food should be clean and minimally processed.
Paleo diet has many enthusiastic followers and a fair number of skeptics. The main controversy comes from some dietary recommendations. Critics claim that by eliminating grains and legumes, you won't be getting enough fiber. Also, many nutritionists disagree with Paleo approach when to comes to fat.
Here are five ways Paleo lifestyle can help your heart health:
1. Go outside and move
Paleo is more than just a diet, it's a lifestyle. Movement is just as important as the foods you eat. Imagine a day in the life of a hunter-gatherer. No TV, no sofa, no recliner chair. Plenty of fresh air, sunshine and natural movement.
No, we are not making you hunt your own food. But consider spending more time outdoors. Let's face it, taking a long walk in the park or through a forest is a lot more enjoyable than walking on a treadmill. Plus, you will get something you can't get at any gym: vitamin D.
When your body doesn't have enough vitamin D, you are at a higher risk of developing heart issues. So, get out there and move. Your heart will thank you.
2. Eat Your Veggies
There is a myth surrounding the Paleo diet: many people think that it means becoming a devoted carnivore. That's a mistake. Paleo lifestyle encourages you to eat like an omnivore, with plenty of vegetables, some eggs and meat and a little bit of fruit, seeds, and nuts. Meat is a nutritionally dense food, so you can eat a relatively small serving and get plenty of nutrients; to feel full and satisfied, fill up of on a variety of vegetables.
The Paleo Mom, a wonderful site full of helpful tips, put together a Paleo food pyramid:
Vegetables are not only full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive but they are also an important source of fiber. A long-term low-fiber diet is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. So, if you eliminate high-fiber foods like grains and legumes from your diet, you MUST eat a lot of vegetables.
When looking for savory Paleo snacks, go beyond jerky, and reach for a meat and veggie bar instead.
3. No Junk Food
One indisputable benefit of Paleo diet is the elimination of highly processed food. Even the biggest Paleo skeptics admit this is the step in the right direction. If you quit drinking soda and eating chemical-laden fast food, you will make your heart happy.
4. Go Easy on the Fat
The mainstream nutritionists deem saturated fat to be the devil incarnate and want you to avoid it at all cost. The Paleo nutritionists will tell you that added sugar, gluten, and legumes are what lies between you and your optimal health and some saturated fats, like lard or coconut oil are fine.
Look back at that food pyramid. Paleo diet doesn't mean you will gorge on bacon fried in lard. If you are concerned about your fat consumption, go for natural, whole sources. It's OK to eat a piece of fatty meat, as long as it is a small piece and you eat plenty of veggies with it. Just use common sense, and you will be fine.
5. Don't Stress Out
One big part of Paleo lifestyle is stress management. Your health is the most important thing you have. Sadly, in today's society, we see stress as a necessary part of success. Excessive stress is known to cause heart attacks. No matter how healthy you eat, if you are under a lot of stress for a prolonged time, your heart is in danger.
Spending time outdoors is an important part of Paleo lifestyle and it's also an excellent way to de-stress. So, whether or not you are a Paleo enthusiast, do your heart a favor: go for a hike, a walk, or a bike ride. Smell the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine.
How do you keep your heart healthy? Let us know in comments!
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