- Eating foods high in fat and cholesterol can be harmful for the heart
- Citrus fruits like oranges are high in vitamin C and flavonoids
- All nuts are good for maintaining a healthy heart
There are several things which you can do to maintain a healthy heart and free from diseases. You should schedule an annual checkup, quit smoking, do some physical exercise daily and reduce the level of stress and worries in your life. These simple measures can help you have a positive effect on your heart. But, one of the simplest and the most effective lifestyle changes that will be beneficial for your heart is keeping a constant check on your diet. Studies show that 70% of the heart diseases can be prevented by the right choices you make. In fact, there are certain foods which influence blood pressure, your cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are the common risk factors for heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that eating foods high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium can be very bad for the heart.
Here are 5 foods that you should eat for a healthy heart:
1. Green vegetables: Vegetables have low fat and calories but are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Your diet should include dark, green, fresh and leafy vegetables to control your weight and blood pressure. Asparagus, swiss chard, kale, spinach and kale, have vitamins A, C, E and K in abundance and contain certain antioxidants that help you get of rid toxins from the body. Additionally, calcium, magnesium and potassium in the greens puts them on the top of the list for heart health.
Also read: Fruits, vegetables help cut heart risk
2. Potatoes: There is no reason as to why potatoes are slammed, ridiculed and criticized. As long as they are not deep fried, potatoes can be good for maintaining a healthy heart. They are rich in calcium, carbohydrates, starch and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. They are also fibre rich, which again is associated with reduced risk for heart disease.
3. Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges are high in vitamin C and flavonoids. Therefore, they have been linked with reducing the risk of heart disease. But you should not include citrus fruit juices in your diet as they contain added sugar which may lead to weight gain and an unhealthy heart.
4. Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios are all good for a healthy heart. They have proteins, healthy fats and fiber. You can snack on some unsalted raw nuts, add them into your smoothies or nut butters. Simply having a few nuts in the morning breakfast can also do wonders for your heart health.
5. Dark chocolate: Not all chocolates but only dark chocolate can be beneficial for a healthy heart. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help in controlling the blood pressure, inflammation and clotting. Milk chocolates and many candy bars are not a great option to protect your heart.
Nuritionist Monisha Ashokan suggests some foods to add in your diet:
1. Cinnamon: It reduces the risk of heart diseases by lowering cholesterol. 1 tablespoon of cinnamon per day decreases the level of bad cholesterol (LD) and triglycerides keeping good cholesterol intact.
2. Garlic: It pays a significant role in reducing high blood pressure. It reduces the total cholesterol level keep heart diseases at bay.
3. Omega 3 fats: ALA (alpha linolenic acid) is an essential fatty acid that means you need to take it in your diet as it's essential and the body is unable to produce it. It reduces inflammation in the body that can save blood vessels. Omega 3 fats found in fish, walnuts, flax seeds, canola oil, chia seeds etc may lower triglycerides, blood pressure, blood clotting and heart failure risk.
4. Tomatoes: Tomotaes act as a blood purifier. Regular consumption of raw or cooked tomatoes keeps the heart healthy. Vitamin K present in tomatoes prevent the occurence of hemorrhages.
5. Almonds: they are the super foods for your heart. A handful of almonds along lowers cholesterol. It contains vitamin B 17, vitamin E, vitamin A, minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc which are the sources of good fats essential for healthy heart.
(Monisha Ashokan is a clinical nutritionist at Nourish Me, Delhi)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.