A healthy diet is the secret to a healthy heart. Experts say besides staying active and stress-free, a healthy diet can also lower the risk of heart diseases and other health problems.
Dr Deeksha Katiyar, physician and co-founder at WeClinic Homeopathy in Kanpur, UP, says, “Some foods like leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are a great source of vitamin K which protects arteries. They are also high in dietary nitrates, which show reduced blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness, and improve the functioning of cells lining the blood vessels.”
Studies have also found a link between increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables and a lower risk of heart disease, she adds.
On the other hand, it’s advised to include whole grains in a regular diet as it has all three nutrient-rich parts like germ, endosperm and bran. Common types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa. “Whole grains are protective and an extra one or two servings per day of these foods decreases risk by approximately 10% to 20%. Refined carbohydrates increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Adopting a diet rich in plant-based foods, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and sodium intake within normal limits can be effective in preventing and managing hypertension,” says Katiyar.
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Some foods can raise the risk of developing heart diseases, and it can be challenging to change dietary habits. “You will be on the right track to a heart- healthy diet once you understand which foods to consume more and which ones to limit.
Controlling meal portions is the first thing you can do to improve the health of your diet, heart, and even waistline,” says Dr K Shanmugam, assistant chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru.
According to Shanmugam, to lower blood cholesterol and lessen the risk of coronary artery disease, one should limit the amount of saturated and trans fats.
Beans, peas, and lentils are legumes that make excellent meat alternatives since they are low-fat and cholesterol-free protein sources. Also, limiting salt (sodium) is a crucial component of a diet that promotes heart health.
The American Heart Association suggests no more than 2,300 milligram (mg) of salt a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
- Asparagus is a good source of folate, which prevents the body from building up an amino acid called homocysteine in the body
- Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol’
- Berries are also full of antioxidant polyphenols, good in fibre, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and low in fat
- Chia seeds and flaxseeds are plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help to minimise levels of triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure
- Dark chocolate has protective benefits against atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up inside the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke
- Fish high in omega-3s lowers the risk of abnormal heartbeats and slows the growth of plaque in arteries
- Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are all heart-healthy nut options
- Oatmeal is rich in soluble fibre, it may help to reduce the risk of heart disease