World Heart Day 2022: Your eating habits contribute in a big way as far as your overall health is concerned. Our fast-paced lifestyle at times prevents us from making better food choices due to lack of time and non-availability of healthy ingredients. We end up consuming a lot of ready-to-eat, processed and calorie-laden food for convenient eating. However, in the longer run this kind of food can promote obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and ultimately increases your risk of developing deadly heart diseases significantly. (Also read: Open gym vs indoor gym: Which is better for your heart health?)
To keep your heart healthy, being mindful about what you are munching, drinking and eating as your main meals is extremely important. Reaching for a soft-drink, fruit juice, cup of tea and coffee may be easier or more tempting than having a whole fruit, dry fruits, wholegrain foods or green vegetables, but it is the food that you eat that could actually impact your heart health.
“Diet plays a major role in heart health and a poor or imbalanced diet can impact your risk of heart diseases. In fact, certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart diseases,” says Neha Ranglani, Nutritionist and Health Coach.
This World Heart Day, we must make a conscious effort to keep a check on what we consume and the foods we should avoid for better heart health. Integrative Nutritionist and Health Coach Neha Ranglani suggests a list of foods you must eat every day and those you should completely eliminate.
MUST-HAVE FOODS FOR HEART HEALTH
1. A handful of almonds every day is the key to good heart health
Almonds may lower total and LDL cholesterol when included in a healthy diet and reduce levels of heart damaging inflammation. A review by a panel of Indian nutrition and cardiovascular experts, published in the journal Nutrients, suggests that daily consumption of almonds may help reduce dyslipidemia, one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease among Indians.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a daily snack of 42 grams of almonds, consumed as part of an overall healthy diet, improved a number of heart disease risk factors. Thus, snacking on a handful of almonds every day comes with a wide range of benefits. You can also put yourself in the habit of consuming almonds as a pre-workout snack or a healthy bed-time snack. Almonds are also easy to carry and munch on, on-the-go.
2. Do not skip eating your share of greens
According to an analysis of eight studies, increased consumption of leafy green vegetables was linked to up to a 16% lower risk of heart disease. A multitude of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be found in green leafy vegetables. Additionally, they contain a lot of nitrates, a compound that helps to dilate blood vessels so that oxygen-rich blood can flow to your heart. They also include significant levels of dietary nitrates, which have been demonstrated to lower blood pressure, lessen arterial stiffness, and enhance the functionality of the cells lining blood vessels.
Serving advice: To enhance the flavor of greens, add them to a stir-fry, sauté them in olive oil, or roast them with garlic.
3. Include whole grains in your meals
Increased consumption of whole grains in your diet has been linked to improved heart health. According to an analysis of 45 studies, consuming three additional servings of whole grains per day was linked to a 22% lower risk of heart disease. Nowadays, there are numerous carbohydrate alternatives that come in whole wheat varieties. Additionally, they frequently include a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), folate (Vitamin B9), magnesium, and iron.
Serving tip: Substitute sandwiches, pasta, noodles and other all-flour products with emmer wheat or millets.
FOODS TO ELIMINATE
1. Avoid processed meats as much as possible
Meats that have been preserved with salt, nitrites, or other preservatives are considered processed meats. Long-term observational research has indicated that processed meats are the worst for the heart. A contributing factor to the issue is probably the processed meats’ high salt and preservative content. Although red meat is a plentiful source of protein, this does not warrant daily consumption. Being high in salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats makes it detrimental to your heart.
2. Get rid of all the packaged food in your pantry
In a study by NutriNet-Sante, it was discovered that consuming 10% more ultra-processed foods was linked to a 10% or greater increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular diseases. Foods that have undergone extensive processing frequently contain harmful amounts of added sugar, sodium, and fat. These substances enhance the flavour of the food we consume but including too much of them can result in major health problems like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
3. Quit consuming any type of aerated and sugary drinks
Sugary beverages harm the heart in the same way as highly processed and refined carbs do. Sugary drinks raise your risk of gaining weight in addition to the other negative effects of highly refined and processed carbs. Furthermore, it significantly stresses the artery walls, raising the risk of heart disease.