The high prevalence of cardiovascular diseases has become the leading cause of mortality in India. Although there are many contributing factors to it, an unhealthy diet is one of the main contributing factors. Therefore, what you choose to eat can have a huge impact on your heart health. Aman Puri, Founder at Steadfast Nutrition, says that a heart-healthy diet mainly revolves around eating more of a plant-based diet as it is free of cholesterol, saturated fats and trans-fat, which are the main contributors for the build-up of cholesterol, plaque formations. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid processed foods like bakery items, fatty foods, red meat and full fat-based dairy products.
Vital Nutrients for a Healthy Heart
Eating a wholesome nutrient-dense diet is best to go for, but there are certain crucial nutrients which further bestow your heart health.
Good Fats for a Healthy Heart
These must be included through dietary sources as our body cannot produce them on its own. They are known to decrease inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol, and prevent the formation of blood clots.
Sources: Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines provide omega-3 in the form of EPA and DHA, the absorbable form for the body. Among vegetarian sources, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts provide it in the form of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which gets converted into EPA and DHA in the body.
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
Again known to provide similar health benefits as omega-3 fats and also help increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels.
Sources: Olive oil, nuts, avocados, peanuts
Phytonutrients to Fight Cholesterol
Plant sterols / stanols
These are naturally occurring plant compounds, which limit the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs, thereby reducing cholesterol levels.
Sources: Wheat bran, wheat germ, peanuts, sesame oil, almonds
It is beneficial for preventing the occurrence and treatment of heart diseases as they work by removing cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity and maintaining a healthy weight. Also, fibre rich foods are good sources of various nutrients.
Sources: Whole grains like oats, wholewheat; whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
This antioxidant is associated with anti-inflammatory properties and may lower plaque build-up, and lower cholesterol.
Sources: Apples, citrus fruits, parsley, tea
It plays a protective role in lowering blood pressure and pro-inflammatory markers of cardiac inflammation.
Sources: Tomato, watermelon, red cabbage, red peppers, papaya
The fat-soluble antioxidant is known to reduce oxidative stress and promote better health.
Sources: Fatty fish, cruciferous vegetables, spinach.
It is known to maintain nerve and muscle function, steady heart rhythm, blood pressure and is necessary for many biochemical reactions in the body.
Sources: Almonds, black beans, soybean, tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, whole grains.
It is an essential nutrient found to reduce the risk of cardiac conditions like heart attacks, strokes. Meta-analysis in the journal of Clinical Nutrition reflected that folic acid lowers the risk of stroke, by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood which is responsible for artery wall thickening.
Sources: Amaranth leaves, spinach, mint, Bengal gram, green gram, black gram and soy are good sources of folic acid.
A healthy diet and lifestyle is a way to a healthy heart and you!
Stay tuned to HerZindagi for more knowledge on what is good for your heart and how to take care of it.