High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, being physically inactive and smoking are the main causes behind heart diseases
Regular physical activity has numerous benefits on your heart health.
- Heart diseases account for one-third of all the deaths worldwide.
- Ditching your unhealthy lifestyle choices is the key
- You should cut back on salt
Heart diseases account for one-third of all the deaths worldwide. They occur when the arteries and blood vessels which transport blood to the heart are blocked. They are blocked with the development of plaque, a waxy substance, in the arteries and blood vessels. The question arises what causes the plaque to develop in the arteries and blood vessels? High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, being physically inactive and smoking are the main causes behind it. It leads to the accumulation of plaque over a period of time. Negligence of any kind towards your health is the major contributor. Ditching your unhealthy lifestyle choices is the key. Exercising regularly and opting out from smoking and drinking must be appreciated.
Here are a few dietary recommendations to be followed by heart patients:
1) Choose low fat dairy or skimmed milk (1-2 percent) over full fat milk to cut back on the intake of saturated fatty acids which can make you prone to artery clogging.
2) Completely avoid food items or grocery items that contain Trans- Fats or hydrogenated fats. These fats are responsible to raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). These are found in - jams, cakes, pastries, cookies, butter, mayonnaise, and margarine.
3) Regularly consume fatty fishes like salmon and mackerel as they contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that promote good cholesterol levels and also prevent the development of plaque on the arteries and blood vessels, keeping them free from damage
4) Garlic contains a compound called allicin which is known to lower down high blood pressure. It helps in reducing the bad cholesterol, LDL which is one of the causes of heart diseases among people.
5) Flax seeds are another variant of super foods that boast of high omega 3 fatty acids, good to promote heart health and reduce any inflammation. You can consume one to two teaspoon of flaxseeds daily. The best way to consume them is by dry roasting and then grinding them into a fine powder. This powder can be added t your curries, soups, salads or flour.
6) Cut back on salt. Aim to eat not more than two thousand milligrams of sodium, which is roughly equal to half teaspoon of salt on a daily basis. If you have constant high blood pressure, you need to further reduce the salt intake by three-fourth teaspoon on an everyday basis.
7) Clinical studies showing that consuming at least 25 g of soy protein per day lowered total and LDL cholesterol. Eat foods like soy beans, soy nuggets, tofu or tempeh to ensure goodness of soy in your diet.
8) Whole grains like quinoa contain all of the nutrient-rich parts of the grain, the germ, endosperm and the bran. Quinoa contains good amount of fibres which cut down the bad cholesterol levels and also lead to reduced levels of high blood pressure.
9) Consume more of deep colored fruits and vegetables such as spinach, carrot, peach, and blueberries as they usually contain more micronutrients compared to others.
10) Eat a whole fruit instead of fruit juice as the fruit juice is deprived of the goodness of dietary fibre which is essential for lowering of blood cholesterol and improving satiation.
11) Plan your menu well in advance. For meals and snacks, emphasize on colorful vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Focus on lean protein sources and healthy fats. Watch your portion size and choose foods low in added salt.
12) Include chia seeds in your diet. This superfood is also loaded with heart-healthy protein, minerals, and antioxidants like calcium, iron, fiber, and magnesium.
13) Quit smoking. Smoking is the top controllable risk factor for the development of heart diseases. Smoking can damage the lining of your arteries, and also can lead to build up of fatty substance called atheroma.
14) Keep moving. Regular physical activity has numerous benefits on your heart health. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing or literally love from the heart, so that your heart can love you back. Make sure to indulge in the physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five times in a week. Also, make sure that you never skip your breakfast so that you have enough strength to regularly indulge in exercise therapy.
15) Get screened regularly. It is important to keep a tab on your numbers. Keep yourself regular with the diagnostic check up especially for your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Also, keep a track record of the improvements in these parameters. It will serve as an excellent motivator, and will keep you healthy in the long run.
For the conclusion, we emphasise on eating healthy foods. The foods included in the list above must be surely included in your diet in one way or the other. Cut down on unhealthy foods and that will not only help in keeping your heart healthy but also lowers down other health risks.
(Nmami Agarwal is a celebrity nutritionist)
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