Whether you want to lose weight, manage cardiovascular issues or simply avoid any health complications, a healthy, clean eating pattern can help you move towards it. Understanding what foods are good or bad and taking small steps to include or avoid different foods can be game changer. While eating habits are formed slowly and changing them can be overwhelming, here’s your guide to a Cardiac Diet which includes foods and eating habits that can help you maintain a healthy heart.
The Cardiac Diet – Foods & Habits For A Healthy Heart
- Control portions: Eyeballing your food to check the estimated calories is the easiest way to avoid overeating and over consumption. Even healthy foods like nuts, when taken in excess, are harmful! Always choose low calorie and high fiber foods to fill yourself like raw fruits and vegetables. Take smaller portions of calorie dense and high salt foods for a healthy heart. Another tip is to choose a smaller plate when eating.
- Choose raw vegetables: Having at least 3-4 servings of fresh and local vegetables is very essential to get a good supply of heart healthy antioxidants. Choose bright coloured vegetables to get maximum benefit. Fiber, which is present in vegetables, helps in controlling high BP, fat deposition in arteries and also eases digestion.
- Include whole grains, millets: Grains are naturally high in fiber and nutrients. Avoid refined and processed cereals like all-purpose flour, breads and bakery products. Instead, choose locally available native millets like barley, ragi, bajra, quinoa, and farro.
- Consume salt mindfully: Having too much salt can worsen cardiac health and cause hypertension. Adding no table salt and reducing salt while you cook is the first step. Reducing hidden salt from foods like cornflakes, muesli, breads, biscuits, sauces, and pickles is the next step. Choose less refined salts like Rock salt or Himalayan salt. Be wary if you have thyroid, as you might need regular iodized salt. Flavor your dishes using dill, coriander, mint, lemon, and oregano instead!
- Choose low-fat high protein sources: Avoid animal products that are high in fat such as full fat milk, cheese, etc. Go for low fat/toned milk, choose leaner cuts, fish, and eggs to meet your protein requirement. Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. Products like soya granules, sprouts, powdered pulses are good, low-fat sources of protein and contain no cholesterol. They can be easily added to the diet to increase protein intake.
- Control the intake of nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds when consumed in moderation are extremely beneficial. Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, sabja seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds are rich in heart healthy fats known as omega 3 fatty acids. These help in increasing the good cholesterol component essential for limiting inflammation in heart patients. However, excess of these nuts and seeds can also lead to increased fat intake which is not ideal.
- Engage in cardio activities: As the name suggests, any type of physical activity which affects the heart activity is considered good for cardiovascular health. If you cannot go to the gym, ensure that you at least go for a walk. A quick 30-minute fast walk can help you get good cardio activity to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and improve energy levels. It can also help you fight weight gain to improve overall cardiac health. If you are still unable to find time for dedicated exercise, make it a habit to walk for 10 minutes post every meal. Finding small pockets of time for cardiovascular fitness in the form of walking can be really helpful. Choose any activity like jogging, running, cycling, swimming, Zumba, or aerobics, etc.
- Say no to smoking and alcohol: Limit your alcohol intake. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. The chemicals you inhale when you smoke, damage your heart and blood vessels.
A mild indulgence should not hamper your heart healthy journey, so an occasional favorite meal or a piece of cookie won’t harm you. However, balancing your choices and changing your eating habits in the long run is the key to better heart health.
We hope this Cardiac Diet and the subsequent tips help you make a positive lifestyle change. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.