Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death worldwide: heart failure, hypertension, myocardial infarction... These are examples of cardiovascular diseases that can end our lives.
How can we overcome the risk factors that increase the chances of suffering from these diseases? By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including following a balanced diet that promotes cardiovascular health.
In this post, we'll tell you what types of foods constitute a heart-healthy diet, and as ham experts, we'll explain why ham is a quality food that can benefit your cardiovascular health.
How to Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet?
According to the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC), it has been proven that up to 80% of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through nutrition. However, it's important to note that when we talk about this type of nutrition, we're not referring to following a specific diet plan, but rather adopting a lifestyle.
A heart-healthy diet is one that provides us with macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, as well as micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
The Mediterranean Diet as a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
The Mediterranean Diet is a valuable cultural heritage; it's a balanced lifestyle that includes recipes, cooking methods, local products, and other heart-healthy customs. Among the many health benefits, the Mediterranean diet is characterized by the use of heart-healthy fats like olive oil or fat from oily fish, nuts, and even Iberian ham. The main basis of this diet is fruits and vegetables, accompanied by a protein source (either animal or plant-based) and a portion of high-quality carbohydrates, whether whole grains, tubers (like potatoes or sweet potatoes), or legumes.
Some of the keys to the Mediterranean diet include using olive oil as the primary healthy fat for cooking or dressing, choosing fresh and seasonal foods and avoiding excessive consumption of processed foods, and basing your daily meals on plant-based foods combined with protein sources from animals such as fish, meat, eggs, or plant-based sources like legumes. Learn about the foods that make up our Mediterranean meals, complemented with ham.
Can Iberian Ham be Included in a Heart-Healthy Diet?
Many people are uncertain about including ham in a healthy diet, but as we mentioned earlier, a balanced and healthy diet should include nutrients such as healthy fats and proteins. Ingredients like fish, nuts, or Iberian ham are responsible for providing these properties to our bodies.
Generally, there's a fear of fats because they are thought to be responsible for all our health problems and weight gain. However, the truth is that our bodies need healthy fats to function properly, and these fats are not harmful to our cardiovascular health.
In the case of Iberian ham, there's "infiltrated fat," which we perceive as marbling within each slice. This marbling is thanks to the ability of Iberian pigs to infiltrate fat into the muscle during their time in the pasture while they roam freely, feeding on acorns and other wild fruits, and getting exercise. Thanks to this diet, the fat in Iberian acorn-fed ham contains more than 50% oleic acid, which can contribute to lowering cholesterol.
Therefore, we classify this infiltrated fat as "unsaturated" fats, which are compatible with a heart-healthy diet. To learn more about the fat in ham, we recommend our post:
- "Is Ham Fat Bad?".
On the other hand, Iberian ham is a food with a high level of protein, an essential element for the proper functioning of our bodies, especially important for physically active individuals, older people who are losing muscle mass, or those with reduced appetite. Ham can be a great ally as a recovery food after exercise, and it can enhance the protein content and flavor of dishes.
In summary, Iberian ham can complement our everyday recipes with healthy fats and protein, making it an ideal addition to salads, vegetable dishes, recipes with legumes or pasta, etc. And in addition to providing nutrients, it will make the flavor of each dish incredibly delicious.
Learn more about the benefits of ham:
- "The Benefits of Iberian Ham for Health".
Melon with Ham
Iberian Ham: Reducing Salt Intake
Another reason to include ham in a heart-healthy diet is that it helps reduce the amount of salt in many dishes and recipes. As you may know, reducing salt intake is one of the key recommendations from cardiologists. High sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease.
To achieve this reduction in daily salt intake, there are many flavorful seasonings that can be added to recipes that are healthier and add new taste dimensions, making dishes more delicious.
In turn, ham can also help reduce the amount of salt in some cases. It's quite common in dishes like vegetable soups, where adding some ham shavings can provide that salty and savory touch to the recipe, allowing you to reduce the need for salt. It's also ideal for salads with vegetables, legumes, or pasta. You'll find that the recipe gains uniqueness and becomes healthier!
Artichokes with Ham
Iberian Ham: A Food that Helps Reduce Salt Intake
Another reason to introduce ham into a heart-healthy diet is that it helps reduce the amount of salt in many dishes and recipes. As you probably already know, reducing salt consumption is one of the cornerstone pieces of advice recommended by cardiologists. A high sodium intake contributes to arterial hypertension and increases the risk of heart disease.
To achieve this reduction in daily salt intake, there are many rich condiments that can be incorporated into recipes. These alternatives are healthier and, at the same time, bring new flavor nuances and a delicious touch to dishes.
Furthermore, ham can also help decrease the need for salt in some instances. It's a common practice in dishes like vegetable soups, where adding a few ham slices can provide that savory touch to the recipe and eliminate the need for extra salt. This practice is also ideal for salads containing vegetables, legumes, or pasta. You'll discover that the recipe becomes more unique and healthier!
Artichokes with Ham
In the Enrique Tomás online store, you'll find a variety of options for Iberian ham in different formats so you can start incorporating it into your heart-healthy diet.
Remember, consuming it won't harm your health; instead, it will provide you with nutrients like protein and healthy fats that are necessary for the proper functioning of your body!