In Heart healthy On 16 June 2014
When it comes to heart health, prevention is your best bet. If you are looking for a way to kick start your heart-healthy lifestyle, look at your diet. The food you eat has an impact on your heart and unhealthy eating, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle can damage your health. Try making these heart smart diet choices to combat heart disease. # 1: Cut down on your fat intake To prevent or reduce heart ailments, you need to choose the right types of fats and eat less fat in general. Our diet comprises a large amount of fat in general, regardless of the source. So cutting down on the fat and oil intake can be a good first step. Avoid fats that elevate cholesterol levels: saturated fats and trans fatty acids, which are present in bakery products, high-fat meats, fried food and dairy products like cream. Use healthier oils like olive oil, soyabean oil or rice bran oil. # 2: Reduce your salt intake Excess salt in your diet can cause blood pressure elevation, which increases the development of heart problems. Reduce your daily salt intake to not more than 6 gms a day. You can cut off your excess salt intake by using less salt for cooking, avoiding table salt while eating; cutting down on processed and canned foods and avoiding crackers and snacks, which are high in salt. # 3: Eat more fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in fibre and are power packed with vitamins and minerals. The fibre and antioxidant properties of various fruits and vegetables helps in the prevention of heart diseases. Make sure to consume fresh fruits and vegetables at least 5 times a day. Eating fresh produce can keep you full for a longer period and may prevent you from eating unhealthy snacks. # 4: Maintain a healthy body weight Being overweight can increase the risk of heart disease. Obesity caused by excess fat deposits in your body brings along with it a range of complex health issues. Maintain an ideal body weight for your height and age. A lifestyle change, balanced diet and moderate physical activity can help you attain your desirable weight. #5: Eat whole grains Whole grains are a good source of fibre, minerals and vitamins, which help regulate blood pressure and keeps your heart healthy. Further processing of whole grains gives you refined flour that is devoid of the fibre and vitamins. Refined products, due to less fibre, are absorbed quickly into our body; thus making them a source of high carbs. You can consume grains like quinoa or couscous, or add flax seeds or bran to your diet. # 6: Consume fish twice a week Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent against heart diseases. The vegetarian sources of omega - 3 fatty acids are flax seeds, rapeseed oil or walnuts. # 7: Avoid binge drinking A moderate amount of alcohol consumption has potential health benefits that is only if you are not exceeding, 2 drinks per night. Excess drinking for a consistent period can elevate your blood pressure and affect your good cholesterol. Alcohol also affects your heart rate and causes weight gain. Opt for a glass of red wine instead. # 8: Limit your sugar intake Sugar provides easily digestible and readily absorbable carbohydrates. A lot of people do not know that sugar plays just as much of a role in heart disease as fats. Excess sugar is converted into fat and is stored in the body. Eating more than what is required can cause weight gain, elevated blood pressure and contribute as a risk factors for diabetes. Not more than 6-8 tbsp of table sugar should be consumed in a day. # 9: Control your portions How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Keep a check on the quantity that you eat. Use smaller plates, cups and serving spoons. Do not put excess food on your plate and refrain from second helpings. While eating out at restaurants, do not order for more than what is required and stop when you are full. Avoid storing super sized food packages at home. # 10: Eating healthy Reaching out for a heart-healthy diet plan is the key. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits, avoid refined bakery products, say no to fried and junk foods and eating heart-healthy foods will help you win the battle against heart diseases. # 11: Consume these secret super foods Foods that have antioxidant properties reduce inflammation, \"bad\" cholesterol and increase the \"good\" cholesterol, keep your blood pressure in the desirable range and boost your immunity. Foods like garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, berries, oranges, flax seed, and nuts are vital for a healthy heart. # 11: Consume these secret super foods Foods that have antioxidant properties reduce inflammation, \"bad\" cholesterol and increase the \"good\" cholesterol, keep your blood pressure in the desirable range and boost your immunity. Foods like garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, berries, oranges, flax seed, and nuts are vital for a healthy heart. # 12: Choose low-fat proteins Eating protein is a healthy start. But many good quality protein sources are also high in fat content. Wisely eliminate or choose options that are high in protein but considerably low in fat. Do not use the yolk while making an egg preparation. Opt for chicken and fish and cut down on meat, beef and pork, use leaner cuts that trim down the fat. Use methods like grilling, baking and barbecuing rather than frying and making gravies. # 13: Physical activity Sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of developing heart diseases. Physical activity keeps your weight in check, improves your heart rate, pumps more oxygen into your blood and keeps your heart healthy. Indulging in at least 30 mins of aerobic exercise has proven to improve your blood pressure, reduce the damage, and stress your heart goes through. # 14: Quit smoking Smoking consistently is known to be a major cause of Coronary Heart Disease. Smoking increases your heart rate and disrupts your blood pressure it also causes oxidative damage to our body. Try to kick the habit, if you want a healthy heart. # 15: Read food labels Learn to read the food labels for packages and gain knowledge about serving sizes. Look for certain health claims like low-fat, 1% fat, healthy, high fibre, unsalted and low calories. This can be helpful in determining what portion of food is to be consumed and its health benefits. This will help you to make healthier choices for a healthier heart. # 16: Reduce eating out Socialising or eating out too often can be dangerous for your heart. Frequently treating yourself to high calorie or fatty foods and desserts can cause excess fat consumption, higher calorie intake, eating more than what is needed and eating unhealthy. Choose wisely from the vast range of varieties and opt for healthier snacks while eating out. # 17: Say no to processed food Processed foods are high in calories, high in fats, have easily digestible carbohydrates, do not give satiety, are low in fibre and possess an array of health hazards. Cut down on consumption of ready to eat, ready to cook, instant foods. Reduce your intake of packaged snacks and say no to processed foods for a healthier heart. # 18: Avoid stress Stress is a leading causative factor for heart disease. Stress and unhealthy lifestyle can lead to number of health issues. Get rid of tension and aim for a healthier and happier life. Indulge in a new activity, listen to music to calm yourself or go for a walk when under immense pressure. # 19: DASH diet Adopt a dietary approach to stop hypertension. It provides the recommended allowance for cereals, pulses, poultry, fruits and vegetables. It also provides you with the restrictions required for salt and sugar consumption and it gives you an outline for a heart healthy diet. # 20: Create daily menus and plans Practice a daily regime of diet goals and aim for a healthier lifestyle. Plan your menu a day prior and try sticking to it. Account for the foods and the amounts you eat and assess yourself. Check your blood pressure routinely and give your heart the best TLC.