Winter season is one of the most challenging seasons of the year. Low temperatures can have adverse effects on human health which may cause various respiratory problems, joint pain, cold, cough, flu, and severe health conditions including heart diseases. The human heart is one of the vital organs of the body and it is important to protect it from the effects of extreme weather conditions. During winters, the human heart has to put more than usual effort to pump blood as this weather leads to contractions in blood vessels to conserve body heat.
Good heart health is always complemented by the intake of good food. Due to chilly weather conditions, it is important for us to develop healthy dietary habits to cope with the dreary weather and to nurture our bodies. Below are some healthy food items suggested by Dr Varun Bansal, Consultant, Robotics and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, to consume during winter to keep the heart in its best shape.
- Walnuts and Almonds: Walnuts and Almonds are rich in plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids and essential fatty acids which help gain energy and also prevent heart diseases.
- Seasonal fruits especially citrus fruits like oranges: Citrus fruits are rich in fibre, vitamin C, and anti-oxidants which are good for a healthy heart and body.
- Green leafy vegetables: They essentially help in building immunity and are known as great suppliers of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps in reducing heart risks and problems in the body. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, and chenopodiumalbum are available in abundance during winter.
- Whole grains: Whole grains are rich in nutrients and fibre. They help in maintaining good heart health. They help in supplying complex carbohydrates, protein, fibres to the body which helps in reducing heart problems and risks. Whole grains include millet, barley, quinoa, sorghum, etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other vegetables of a similar classification lie in the category of cruciferous vegetables. These are all very high sources of calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K and other beneficial nutrients which help in enhancing immunity and heart health.
- Seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa seeds, and hemp seeds are all beneficial for heart health and supply vital nutrients to the body like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and fibre. They help in minimising various heart risks, and cholesterol levels, control blood pressure, and even diabetes.
- Root Vegetables: During winter, some root vegetables like carrots, beetroot, and turnip are helpful in keeping the heart healthy. They are all good sources of fibre, vitamins A and C. They help in blood circulation and lowering cholesterol levels. They can be easily consumed daily in salads and even in the form of vegetable juice.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is generally consumed as the first meal of the day. It has a rich proportion of vital nutrients like zinc, carbohydrates, and fibre which keep the heart intact and the immune system healthy. They help in preventing heart attacks and strokes and protect the arteries from any damage against inflammation.
During winter, it is always advisable to avoid the consumption of fried, fatty, and unhealthy foods to reduce heart risks. It is also important to consume sugar and salt in moderation to help the body and heart function properly. All the more, it is advisable to eat healthily and be active even indoors by doing yoga, aerobics, and light exercises to keep yourself warm and fit and to prevent any health-related problems.