Sam Zaman, Asian Food Tourist | Deaths due to cardiovascular diseases have increased alarmingly over the recent years. More people die annually from CVDs than other diseases.
Owing to unhealthy eating patterns and erroneous lifestyle, heart attacks and strokes have become increasingly common in the youth.
Healthy changes to lifestyle is the need of the hour. Our day to day diet and eating pattern largely defines our health. Keeping a vigil on what to eat and what not, is important.
There are certain foods that are definitely healthier for our heart. With growing age, it’s advisable to make changes to our diet by adding more of these:
NUTS & DRY FRUITS
Nuts are highly beneficial. One of their many superpowers is that they are full of vitamins and minerals.
Low levels of saturated fats, goodness of monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein and vitamin E make them extremely healthy to eat.
Not just as daily snacks, we can even include them in our recipes and dishes.
One can choose from a variety of walnuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts.
APPLES & POMEGRANATES
Fruits are highly nutritious we know. Rich in vitamins, fibres and low in sodium, calories and fats, fruits are an essential part of our balanced diet.
Apples among other fruits are especially beneficial for heart. They have strong antioxidants (flavonoid compounds) which restrict bad cholesterol from forming plaque in arteries.
Having generous amounts of vitamin C as well as Pectin (a soluble fibre), they are very helpful in lowering cholesterol which must be kept under control for people suffering from heart disease. They also inhibit inflammation in the body.
To add some variety, we can even have pomegranates which are equally nutrient rich and beneficial for heart.
Pomegranate juice is said to have greater antioxidant capacity than most of the other drinks.
Fishes such as Salmon, Tuna, Sardines and Mackerel are the winners when it comes to being the best heart-friendly foods.
They have plentiful supply of omega-3 fatty acids which helps to reduce irregular heart beats and plaque building in the arteries.
High levels of Triglycerides in the blood is responsible for heart diseases. Eating fish or salmon reduces its chances by upto 50 percent.
Walnuts dietary supplements, flaxseed oil, canola oil etc are other widely known sources of omega-3 fats but salmon remains the most sought after choice amongst all.
As inviting and delish as it sounds, dark chocolate has long been identified as a potential superfood due to its exceptional health properties.
We all know that chocolate is made up from cocoa beans. But what most of us don’t know is that cocoa beans contain antioxidants, such as Flavonols, and that too in good amounts.
These antioxidants help in lowering blood pressure, and (LDL), popularly known as “bad cholesterol”. They also help in improving blood flow to the brain and heart.
Having said that, we can’t ignore the other side of chocolate that is – they come loaded with sugar and fats.
To avoid this, we can try sugar free option. We also have organic chocolates available these days. The idea is to consume limited sugar, reaping maximum benefits of flavonoids.
Green tea has witnessed a huge acclaim in the west in the recent years but it has long enjoyed its patrons in Asia.
A study conducted by Harvard Health over 40k Japanese adults found that people who took more than 5 cups of green tea everyday had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke than people who drank less than a cup/day.
Studies have also claimed that this age long beverage contains antioxidants called Catechins that are believed to be the chief cause in reducing chances of body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria.
It thereby lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Berries are rich in polyphenols which is responsible for lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
Especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber are really healthful. These constituents have been associated with improved cardiovascular health.
Different berries contain different, rather, diversified range of polyphenols.
To gain maximum heart healthy benefits, we can try mixing a variety of berries. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, bilberries all can be tried.
Not many would add red wine to this list, simply because more studies are required before we can confidently say it is beneficial for health.
However, health experts and doctors agree there is something in red wine that helps our heart.
I have listed it here primarily because a good number of people worldwide consume alcohol. This is despite being aware of its ill effects. Wine too has lovers all over the globe.
As compared to hard liquors, wine and beer have relatively lower levels of alcohol content. At the same time, wine is also believed to offer considerable health benefits.
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols (resveratrol) is known to protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.
Resveratrol keeps the heart healthy by increasing good HDL cholesterol and preventing clots that lead to heart attacks by thinning the blood.
As much as gladenning it sounds to the souls who love indulging in alcoholic beverages, its equally important to understand that it’s intake should always be disciplined and moderate.
5 or less ounces of red wine a day is good to reap its maximum health benefits.
And for those who would, by any means, opt for non-alcohol sources, natural peanut butter and grapes draw up as the best options.