For World Heart Day: Prevent heart disease with a balanced diet - the plate model makes it possible

Whether our heart is good or not is largely in our own hands.

For World Heart Day: Prevent heart disease with a balanced diet - the plate model makes it possible

Whether our heart is good or not is largely in our own hands. With our lifestyle we can prevent a heart attack. Cardiovascular diseases are still the most common cause of death in Germany – according to the Federal Statistical Office, 338,000 people died from them in 2020. If you give up cigarettes and exercise regularly, you are already doing a lot of good for your heart. Diet also has a major impact on heart health. Around 30 to 40 percent of heart attacks are related to diet.

A varied diet is important so that the heart can continue to pump vigorously. In everyday life, however, it often seems easier to reach for frozen pizza and for some the steak is more tempting than vegetables. And it is not always so easy to see through how much of which food should end up on the plate. With a simple method, it is very easy to make your own diet varied.

A balanced diet is also important to avoid gaining weight. "Too much weight puts a strain on the heart in several ways: On the one hand, the organ has to work up to 50 percent more to supply the larger body mass with blood and oxygen. On the other hand, being overweight increases the risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes," sums it up the German Heart Foundation.

According to the nutritionist Veronika Albers from the health app "Oviva", the recipe for a balanced menu is very simple: "A balanced menu always consists of the following three components: vegetables, protein, starch supplements". For good heart health, however, there are a few more points to keep in mind:

The plate model shows how much protein, vegetables and carbohydrates should be included in a meal. Veronika Albers says that people who eat according to the model will feel positive effects. But there is still more that everyone can do for the heart: "If you then largely avoid red meat and highly processed foods and avoid trans fats (in fried foods), reduce salt and use lots of herbs, you will make your heart twice as happy ."

¼ plate starch side dish

Carbohydrates play an important role in meeting the body's energy needs. They are made up of sugar molecules. But depending on the type of carbohydrates, they contain single, double or multiple sugars. It is therefore important to pay attention to the choice of the right carbohydrates - the use of complex carbohydrates ensures a stable blood sugar level.

The most important polysaccharide in whole grain cereal products and potatoes is the starch they contain. In contrast to sweets, the blood sugar level only rises slowly when eating whole grain products because the body first has to break down the multiple sugars. In addition, whole grain products provide a lot of fiber - and keep you full for a long time. Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, flakes such as oatmeal, 5-grain flakes, unprocessed grains such as millet, barley, quinoa, couscous, bulgur or buckwheat should end up on the plate as a starch side dish. A 2016 study found that three servings of whole grains a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 percent.

¼ plate egg white

Proteins are an important part of nutrition - they help maintain and build muscle. An important point: you are a satiator. But for good heart health, more fish and legumes should be on the menu and less meat. The German Society (DGE) recommends eating no more than 300 to 600 grams of meat per week for a balanced diet. A good choice is fish - salmon, for example. Because the omega-3 fatty acids are considered to lower blood pressure and reduce blood lipids, says Veronika Albers.

Other good sources of protein are: Lean meat, all types of fish, eggs, milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, quark, tofu, seitan and tempeh. Chickpeas, lentils, and peas are other good sources of plant-based protein. Anyone who eats a purely vegan diet should include proteins from various plant sources in their diet throughout the day, because plant protein is not so easy for the human body to use, explained nutritionist Antje Gahl in an interview with the star.

½ plate of vegetables

The main component of a plate should be vegetables. Vegetables are high in dietary fiber. Nutrition expert Veronika Albers summarizes what it means: dietary fiber slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the intestine and thus helps to keep blood sugar stable. The advantage: Regular blood sugar curves prevent hunger pangs, cravings and the desire for sweets. Chard, cabbage and leaf lettuce are especially good for the heart – they contain a lot of vitamin K, among other things. It is said to reduce the risk of developing arteriosclerosis and influences blood clotting.

Of course, fruit should not be missing from a balanced diet. The DGE recommends 250 grams of fruit a day. If you want to watch your weight, you can use low-sugar fruits. You can read here which types of fruit these are.

Sources: Communication from Oviva, DGE, German Heart Foundation, Heart Disease Risk Study, German Heart Foundation 2