The trucker lifestyle isn’t conducive to good cardiovascular health. It’s both stressful and sedentary. But there is one important lifestyle aspect over which every commercial or owner operator truck driver has 100 percent control: your diet. Controlling your diet amounts to shopping for healthy food at grocery stores and preparing them with a slow cooker. A microwave is useful for food preparation as well.
Foods You Should Eat
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your absorption of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It’s the LDL or low-density lipoprotein that increases your risk of a heart attack. Oatmeal also contains antioxidants that reduce the inflammation of artery walls. This inflammation is linked to heart attack and stroke.
- Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Sweeten your oatmeal with these berries instead of using sugar. These are high in antioxidants that improve heart health.
- Fish. Fish such as herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s reduce your blood fat, otherwise known as triglycerides. A high triglyceride level increases your risk of heart disease. Be careful not to over consume fish high in mercury levels such as certain types of tuna. Other sources of healthy fats include raw nuts, avocados, and flax seeds.
- Leafy green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and collards are a good source of nutrients such as folate, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. These nutrients reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly cancer. In addition to leafy green vegetables, brightly colored vegetables tend to have heart healthy nutrients.
Foods You Should Avoid
- Excessive sugar. The average American annually consumes 152 pounds of sugar. That’s 76 times the amount consumed 200 years ago. Excessive sugar consumption increases triglyceride blood fats, and drops your HDL (good) cholesterol in your blood. These two effects increase your risk of heart disease. Avoid cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes, and other processed or commercially baked sweets. Avoid packaged food in favor of food in its natural form. This will also reduce your salt intake. Finally, drink water instead of soft drinks. Soft drinks by far are the biggest contributors to obesity.
- Deep-fried foods. These are commonly found in fast food joints and in precooked fried food found in microwave dinners. These are high in Trans fats and saturated fats, both of which adversely affect your cardiovascular health.
- Processed meats. These include salami, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs.
Finally, get daily exercise. Exercise is just about as important as diet for improving your heart health. During your rest stops, spend some time walking at a moderate pace. As your fitness improves, you can increase your pace.