Heart disorders are one of the deadliest diseases in the entire world. Second only to cancer, statistically they claim the maximum number of human lives across the world. In a survey done during the year 2011, it was revealed that coronary heart disease alone claims almost 400,000 lives a year. Heart disorders kill one woman every minute, that is one life lost every second.
So in a world where almost every other person is plagued by cardiovascular diseases, how can you keep your heart healthy and running for a very long time? We shall take a look at that today.
What is the first step to a healthy heart?
Keeping your heart healthy for the long run, needs dedication and commitment. This means that you cannot follow the rules once in a week and then give up. The human body needs constant monitoring to keep in shape.
The primary step towards heart health is a healthy meal plan which contains all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body, especially your heart needs to function, coupled with light exercise and an overall good lifestyle.
How can a healthy meal plan help your heart?
Cardiovascular diseases can occur due to many reasons. For instance, people with type 2 diabetes are at a high risk of heart attacks. In such a case, eating right in order to control your diabetes level is extremely crucial. On the other hand, if one consumes food highly rich in trans-fat and cholesterol, it increases their chances of heart attack because raised levels of cholesterol in the human blood results in blockage of the arteries and veins, which limits the supply of blood to the heart muscles. Obesity, which results from an unhealthy meal plan and an overall unhealthy lifestyle, can cause heart attacks along with an array of other health related disorders.
So basically, it all comes down to eating the right kind of food in the right amount, as per the requirements of your body, to make sure that your heart remains in good condition.
What are some heart friendly foods?
Food and cardiovascular diseases have a very complex relationship. You may not be able to see the results immediately for yourself, but a healthy meal plan can pay off in the long run. Of course, this goes without saying that there is no “miracle” food which will automatically make your heart immune to cardiovascular diseases. It is all about lowering the chances of cardiovascular diseases in the future. Some of the most widely accepted heart healthy foods are:
• Legumes: Any legumes like lentils, beans and more importantly, chickpeas, are extremely good for the heart. They are extremely high in soluble fiber content, which in turn, help lower the cholesterol level of your blood system, and thereby reduce chances of coronary blockage. Try to eat fresh lentils, but if you must buy canned or preserved lentils, make sure that they are low in salt content.
• Whole grains: Whole grains are packed in abundance with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. They are also a very rich source of soluble fiber, which is extremely effective in lowering the chances of an individual developing cardiovascular diseases throughout their lives by a staggering 40%.
• Omega 3 fatty acid: Omega 3 fatty acid is considered the most effective and hottest food right now among doctors and professionals in the health industry. This is because it is extremely effective in preventing blood clots in the body, thereby preventing heart attacks. But more important than this, is its property of controlling the level of triglycerides in the human blood. The best sources of Omega 3 fatty acid are large fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna.
• Low Fat dairy products: Essentially dairy products are a very good source of potassium. Now, potassium is needed by the body to maintain the blood pressure. However, they are mostly dismissed because of their fat content. A healthy way of consuming dairy products on a daily basis would be the consumption of low fat products like double toned milk and fat free yoghurt.
• Garlic: Garlic is effective in preventing the overproduction of a certain enzyme in the human body called angiotensin, which is responsible for causing the constriction of blood vessels over time. This means that daily means that daily consumption of garlic can prevent arterial blockages.
• Dark chocolate: Dark chocolates, which has little sugar in them, cause the production of nitric oxide in the human body. Nitric oxide is responsible for relaxing or dilating arterial walls. This means that dark chocolates increase blood flow to your heart, making sure that you have a healthy heart rate. However, milk chocolate does quite the opposite. Therefore, stick to dark chocolates.
• Nuts: Nuts are very good heart food because they stimulate the body’s production of “good cholesterol” and prevent the absorption of “bad cholesterol”. But they have long been misunderstood as bad food because of their fat content. Doctors currently are encouraging their patients to consume nuts like almonds, pistachios and walnuts on a daily basis.
• Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are the richest sources of antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols are extremely important for your heart because they are crucial in removing the harmful free radicals in your system. They also have vast amounts of Vitamin C, which lowers chances of a stroke.
• Avocados: Not only are vegetables extremely important, but avocado is particularly good for you because it contains large amounts of good cholesterol, which is crucial in lowering levels of bad cholesterol in the body. More than this, the anti-inflammatory property of avocados are good in preventing the hardening of arterial walls over time.
• Red Wine: The resveratrol content of grapes, which is used to make red wine, is responsible for preventing blood clots by preventing the sticking together of platelets in the blood. That is why doctors usually recommend a glass of red wine in moderation, but sticking to fresh red grapes is a healthier option.
What healthy eating guidelines should you follow?
Changing your diet is a very important step towards preventing cardiovascular disease. But it does not require you to stop eating all that you have been eating so far. Here are a few baby steps for you to kick start your healthy meal plan:
• Avoid food that are high in trans-fat content like processed foods, fried foods and sugar containing food.
• Quit smoking altogether. Instead, switch to nicotine gums or nicotine patches to help deal with withdrawal.
• Instead of eating out or ordering in, try to cook at home as frequently as possible. The food need not be spectacular, just healthy.
• Avoid eating canned or pre-packed food that contains preservatives like soups, stews and frozen dinners. Not only do they contain high levels of sodium but may also contain harmful heavy metal free radicals.
• Limit the intake of table salt in your regular meals. High levels of salt intake can increase your blood pressure, causing heart attacks.
• Look for organic meat and from grass fed animals or eggs from a healthy poultry farm. This is because most animal meat is treated with artificial hormones that can cause physical problems after consumption.
• Always eat fruits that are fresh and natural. Avoid putting dressings on your salads. They are usually extremely high in oils and sugar.
• Always check the amount of trans-fat and cholesterol on food packets before buying them at the supermarket.
You must remember that a healthy lifestyle, that is the combination of good eating habits with regular exercise and positive thinking is the only way towards having a healthy heart and a longer lifespan. Medicines and drugs can only extend your lifespan so far. Always visit your doctor at regular intervals and at the first symptom of any abnormality.
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