There is a rise in the number of heart diseases these days. There is also so much awareness of its prevalence that most people find it mandatory to have regular heart check ups. Though there are various reasons behind heart diseases, it is true that a healthy diet may help in keeping your heart healthy. Many of the heart diseases are blamed on the healthy lifestyle of the modern era. Besides eating unhealthy diet, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, stress etc. contribute towards heart diseases. The aim must be to take more of low calorie, nutrient rich food while limiting high calorie, high sodium food. Let’s have a look at some of the foods that can be beneficial to your heart.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains should be an important part of your diet. This would include whole wheat, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa etc. They provide the much needed carbohydrates. The husk of these whole grains contain several vital nutrients that are necessary for maintaining heart health. Oatmeal is another grain that could be helpful for your heart. It could help lower the cholesterol levels in the body. Excess cholesterol could accumulate as plaques and cause blockage in blood vessels resulting in coronary artery diseases. Meanwhile, avoid refined and processed food that has less nutrition and more of empty calories.
Fruits are low calorie nutrient rich food items. Try to include different coloured fruits. The various colours represent different nutrients. Berries like blueberry, strawberries etc are rich in antioxidants. The anthocyanins and flavonoids may decrease blood pressure and help dilate blood vessels. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit etc are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. They could help lower the risk of developing heart diseases. Pomegranates too contain heart healthy antioxidants.
Vegetables too are low calorie nutrient rich food. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale etc. too contain heart healthy antioxidants. They are rich in carotenoids and iron. Kale too has omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin A rich vegetables like carrots, pumpkins etc. should also be included in the heart healthy diet. Tomatoes are another excellent food item for a healthy heart. They are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene could help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol. Vegetables and fruits in general are rich in fibre which could keep you feeling full and thus stop from eating a large portion size.
4. Nuts And Legumes
The nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios are rich in vitamin E which too helps in reducing LDL cholesterol. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Legumes like lentils, peas etc are rich in protein. Protein helps in growth and repair of the body cells. Legumes also help in regulating the blood sugar levels and is good for people with diabetes. Diabetes often predispose to heart diseases.
Look out for fishes rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines, mackerel etc. Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial in three different ways, they reduce triglycerides, they may help to reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis and they could also be helpful in reducing the incidence of arrhythmias.
Fats are always an important factor in heart healthy diet. It’s best to avoid food rich in transfat and saturated fatty acids. Look for the ingredient list before buying food items. It will be marked on the label. Meanwhile extra virgin olive oil could be taken moderately. It contains monounsaturated fatty acids which could help regulate both cholesterol and blood glucose levels.