A heart-healthy diet is not confined to opting for new options, spending time and effort, but it is more about making wise choices amidst the available options and be healthy and fit.
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A healthy heart
A fit and active heart is a valuable asset, which, in the present scenario, is very crucial to possess and maintain. With the busy schedule, struggling while setting a balance between personal and professional life, the primary compromise is seen in food intake and dietary pattern.
Even, the market is flooded with convenient food options, claiming to make life easy. But they forget to tell, such options also make life vulnerable to hazardous health disorders as well.
Statistics to consider
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, nearly 17.7 million people die annually because of CVDs. This accounts for 31 percent of all deaths globally.
Also, 75 percent of these CVD-dependent deaths are prevalent in low- income and middle-income countries, attributing to increased work pressure, urbanization as well as nutrition transition– shift from regular food pattern to new dietary habits.
A Heart-healthy diet
A healthy-heart diet does not mean that you have to expend time or labor while collecting extravagant ingredients or cooking different dishes. In fact, the regular food that you are having, is the key to keep you and your heart healthy.
Let’s discuss the salient features of a Heart-healthy diet, that makes it a real savior.
Count your calories
The calorie requirement of a person depends on
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Physical activity
Also, the specific nutrient contribution to the total calorie matters. It should majorly come from protein and complex carbs like fibers.
These nutrients help in boosting up the metabolism. Therefore, preventing extra storage of fats.
Control of the portion size
Have small food portions by using small plate or bowls.
Big plates or bowls have extra space, where you might end up keeping extra food, resulting in overeating.
A small plate with all five food groups- fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes or meat products and the moderate amount of fat and sugar, is advisable
Include good fats
All fats are not as bad as per its image has been created. Some fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are very crucial for healthy brain and body.
Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats– Saturated fats as present in butter, margarine, should be avoided.
Try including more unsaturated fats like Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) as present in plant-based food sources like plant oils, nuts, seeds, and fish oil.
Avoid Trans Fats– as present in baked, processed and fried food items.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats have the property of lowering the triglyceride level, inflammation, and blood clotting. They also help in improving the HDL level in blood.
|Fish oil||Dairy products made with full cream milk- butter, cream|
|Vegetable based oil- olive oil, soybean oil||Margarine and shortenings|
|Nuts and seeds oil- almond oil, sunflower seed oil||Red meat- lamb, beef|
Include complex carbs
In the form of fiber, complex carbs are present in
- Whole fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains- like brown rice, whole wheat, oats, wheat bulgur
The complex carbs are beneficial as they help in lowering the blood cholesterol level by absorbing it as well as provide satiety value, therefore, prevent overeating.
Cereal Products to include
Cereal Products to avoid
|Multigrain bread||Refined cereals|
|Whole grains and pulses||Split pulses|
|Millet and based products||Naans|
Maintain the micronutrients supply
Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are present in fruits and vegetables. These are Nature’s medicine in preventing and curing the risk of CVDs as
- Regulate normal metabolic process by working as the cofactor with enzymes
- Also, contains phytonutrients which act as bioactive compounds
As per the standard guidelines, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed in a day constituted by at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of whole fruits.
Avoid junk foods
Foods high in calories like fried, baked food items should be avoided as they are higher in saturated and trans fats.
Due to this reason, they have a tendency to accumulate in visceral organs, blood arteries, that results in hindered blood flow and oxygen supply.
Keep yourself hydrated
Drink a good amount of water. Consumption of at least 8-10 glasses of water helps in better performance.
As all the body cells comprise of water, dehydration may cease their functioning. Consequently, it also hinders the metabolism and energy expenditure as well.
Reduce high salt and sugar intake
For the heart to work efficiently, the intake of salt and sugar should be in moderate amount. High sodium content in the body can fluctuate the blood pressure. This eventually, results in undesirable changes in the blood flow to the heart and its rhythm.
Similarly, high sugar consumption is harmful. It digests easily but if not burnt up, this digested glucose gets converted to fat and store in visceral organs and blood vessels.
Foods to include
Foods to avoid
|Herbs mix and salt-free seasonings||Canned/Frozen/Packed foods- high in sodium|
|Low-sodium salt||Table salt and Cane sugar|
|Whole fruits||Sweetened, carbonated/non-carbonated beverages|
|Honey or Jaggery||Baked goods like cookies, pastries|
This is a very important aspect which generally fades away between every day’s fuss of busy life. We focus on the calorie consumption part but are not providing any medium for its outlet from the body.
This leads to the accumulation of extra calories as stored fat, which eventually, is the reason for obesity and degenerative disorders like CVDs, hypertension, etc.
Try to indulge in one or the form of physical activity in any form like a brisk walk, yoga, exercise or gym, for at least 20 minutes per day.