The increase of Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities in recent years has opened the eyes of the world. Information on the gluten-free diet has grown exponentially. But one thing not everyone knows is how closely related gluten problems and heart disease are.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. That’s a crazy statistic! Even worse, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among Celiac sufferers.
Even if you don’t suffer from Celiac Disease, the health of your heart is a stake. Gluten does cause inflammation and the blockage of nutrition absorption, which causes blood and heart problems. But eating a gluten free diet can also put you at risk for heart problems down the road. Many gluten free options on the market are high on calories, sugar, salt or fat to compensate for texture. All of these things contribute to the development of diabetes and/or heart disease. Create these habits in your gluten-free lifestyle if you aren’t already, and avoid the gluten-free pitfalls for your heart.
Experiment with nuts and seeds
In addition to a boost of fiber and protein, raw nuts and seeds provide “good fats” for your diet. These monounsaturated fats raise levels of the ‘good cholesterol’ transporters in our blood. A lot of people worry about the high calories in nuts, but studies have proved that an occasional handful between regular meals doesn’t negatively affect weight. You can also try some other fun ways to use them, such as breading meat before cooking it or substituting nut and seed butters for lard or butter in baking recipes.
Choose better grains
This may seem like a no brainer, but choosing lesser known grains in place of wheat flour offer fiber and protein. They also provide nutrients and pleasant texture and flavor to your diet. The big bonus for your heart is that they help with weight management.
In a gluten-free lifestyle, exercise is encouraged to help digestion. For the purpose of this article, getting up and moving around on purpose offers weight management and keeps the heart in shape. Even a 30 minute walk each day with a friend or a pet will keep your body and diet on track.
More white meat than red
Meat is a mainstay for people on a gluten free diet. But if you are concerned about your heart as well as your stomach, it’s really important to choose white meats such as poultry or fish over red meats with higher ‘bad cholesterol’ levels. This can lead to plaque in the arteries, strokes, and blood disease.
If you’re living a gluten free lifestyle, you’re already reading labels. In addition to checking for gluten contaminates, you should also be checking the fat, sugar, and sodium levels to keep your heart as healthy as your digestive system. Overindulgence in these three ingredients can lead to swelling in the sack around the heart, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure.
If you can create and maintain these five practices, you can rest assured that your gluten free lifestyle is protecting and maintaining your heart as well. Do you already do these things? If not, which would you like to try? Please tell us in the comments below!
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