Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability in India, and across the world. Ailments such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems like arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, heart valve defects, etc are rather common today. Due to the build-up of fat, cholesterol and other materials (plagues), the walls of the arteries harden and become narrow, causing heart problems. Ageing, family history of heart diseases, elevated levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, poor eating habits, a physically inactive lifestyle, obesity, stress, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse are possible risk factors for developing heart diseases.
Good nutrition along with a positive outlook towards life plays a very important role in the management of patients with heart problems. Practising positivity, stress management, being physically active, meditation, a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables, etc., can improve the health of your heart and overall well-being. Heart disease is a silent killer. A regular medical check-up with your cardiologist is critical to reduce death and disease, due to heart ailments.
Manage heart disease with a heart-healthy diet
Although the incidence of heart diseases is alarmingly high, they can be prevented. Following healthy eating habits is critical to manage heart diseases and prevent further complications. Knowing the little things, including what foods to avoid, foods to include, how much to eat, etc., goes a long way towards achieving a healthy heart.
Control the amount of food you eat: Do not fill your plate completely with food. Use a smaller plate to serve your food. Fill most of your plate with foods prepared from non-starchy vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, brinjal, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Also, add about 1/4th of your plate with protein-rich foods. Add a very small portion of rice, and other starchy veggies like potato, peas, etc.
Choose your fats wisely: Replace your refined cooking oil with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee. Choose MUFA (monounsaturated fats) and PUFA (polyunsaturated fats) rich sources like nuts, seeds, sea fishes, etc. Avoid butter, salad dressing, desserts, etc., as they are rich in cholesterol and trans fats. These foods can elevate your blood cholesterol, which is harmful for your heart.
Include varieties of protein: Chicken, eggs, lean meat, fish, tofu, peas, lentils, etc., are good sources of heart-healthy proteins. Fish, in particular, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is associated with lowering the risk of several heart problems. Try to include them in every meal.
Include complex carbs: Whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fibre. They keep you full for a longer time and help maintain normal blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary foods and beverages, which can spike your blood sugar levels instantly.
Reduce salt intake: High salt intake is harmful for your blood pressure. Avoid adding salt to your meals, as well as salt-rich pickles and fried items. Instead, use varieties of spices and herbs to make your food flavourful and interesting.
Have smaller and frequent meals to maintain normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Consult your dietitian to plan a heart-healthy diet and achieve your targeted lipid profile.
The last word
Although heart diseases are not curable, they can be prevented. Heart diseases can lead to a host of other serious problems, if not arrested at the right time. By following a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes that reduce blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, the risk of heart diseases can be lowered.