Heart disease is a generic term used to describe diseases that affect the heart and supporting arteries. In these diseases, the blood flow to the brain, heart or any other body part is reduced due to the thickening of arteries due to fat deposition, or due to a circulating clot in the bloodstream. It may lead to chest pain, stroke, heart failure, or arrhythmia.
All age groups can benefit from following a healthy, clean eating pattern. Lifestyle habits are formed slowly, over the years, and changing them can be overwhelming. Understanding what foods are good or bad and taking small steps to include or avoid different foods can be a game changer. Let’s read on to learn more about foods and habits that are essential for a healthy heart:
1. Controlling portions: Your foods’ estimated calories are the easiest way to avoid overeating and over consumption of calories. Even healthy foods like nuts, when taken in excess, are harmful! Always choose low-calorie and high-fibre 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.
2. Choosing 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, and fat deposition in arteries and also eases digestion.
3. Including whole grains, millets: Grains are naturally high in fiber and nutrients. Avoid refined and processed cereals like all-purpose flour, bread, and bakery products. Instead, choose locally available native millets like barley, ragi, bajra, quinoa, and farro.
4. 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, bread, biscuits, sauces, and pickles is the next step. Choose less refined salts like Rock salt, and Himalayan salt. Be wary if you also have thyroid you might need regular iodized salt. Flavour your dishes using dill, coriander, mint, lemon, and oregano instead!
5. Choosing low-fat high protein sources: Cut short on high-fat animal products like full-fat milk, processed 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 soy granules, sprouts, and 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.
6. Engaging in cardio activities: As the name suggests, any type of physical activity that affects the heart’s 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, and blood pressure and improve energy levels, plus it can 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 after every meal. Finding small pockets of time for cardiovascular fitness in the form of walking can really be helpful. Choose any activity like jogging, running, cycling, swimming, Zumba, aerobics etc.
7. 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 cause damage to your heart and blood vessels.
GOQii wishes the best for all of you on this World Heart Day! We hope this article has shed light on the essential habits for a healthy heart. If you found this information valuable, share your thoughts in the comments below. You can browse more articles like this here. To get more tips and guidance, speak to a GOQii Coach for lifestyle modifications suited to your health goals. You can subscribe for Personalised Health Coaching here.