Nearly three million people die of the cardiac disease annually in India. It has become the leading cause of death here, with even people in their thirties succumbing to heart attacks. If you have a family history of cardiac disease or have a very stressful job; you need to be proactive about protecting your heart. Of the lifestyle changes required to do so, the easiest is adapting your diet to your nutritional needs, level of daily activity, and weight management. While it is critical for you to get physically more active, get adequate rest, and reduce your stress levels through mindful meditation and yoga; it is vital that you watch what you eat.
Choose the kind of food that is kind to your heart. Fruits and vegetables are your best friends whether you are a healthy individual trying to ensure wellness, or have some ailment which requires careful management. Plus, these provide the necessary fibers to cleanse your blood vessels of dangerous deposits. Be watchful about any overload. Properly washed greens like lettuce can be eaten raw. However, spinach, kale, Sarson ka saag (mustard greens), bathua (chenopodium album), broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and capsicum should be eaten lightly steamed to ensure that they retain their nutrient value and crunch.
Ensure you get to eat enough of citric fruits like lemons, pomelo, avocado, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, cranberries, guavas, and grapes to protect your immune system, and improve your blood circulation. Combined with greens, they ensure that you get all the antioxidants you need, and boost your immune system, but also the lycopene you need to eliminate toxins.
Vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, beetroots, and pumpkin have a high carbohydrate content. Similarly, fruits like bananas, cherries, pineapple, mangoes, and watermelon are delicious, and high in nutrient value, but they also have high sugar content. Eat them sparingly.
Cucumber, melons, gourds, grapefruit, apples, and tomatoes have high water content. Make them part of your menu regularly. Stone fruits like plums, peaches, apricots, pomegranates, and nectarines, and various kinds of berries have low sugar content but are rich in nutrients. Always try to eat your fruits fresh, rather than frozen, or tinned in syrup.
When you gobble your food hastily, or eat to ward off depression, feelings of sadness, or loneliness; it is all too easy to overeat. Pay close attention to what you are eating by savoring its color, texture, and fragrance. Take tiny morsels, and chew carefully. This will make even a small snack stretch, but leave you feeling full and satiated. Even if you are eating healthy food like a fruit salad, or a salad of sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, steamed mushroom, onions, and carrots; portion control will ensure that you get the necessary nutrition without damage. If you feel like eating cake, pastry, or pudding; just eat smaller portions very occasionally, unless you are obese and have cardiac issues.
Whole grains are rich in fibers, which go a long way to make you feel full while cleansing your system. Unrefined flour, oatmeal, Dalia, semolina (suji), unpolished rice, whole-grain barley, and buckwheat are very good for your heart as their fiber reduces the cholesterol levels in your blood. Not only do they provide necessary nutrients; the Vitamin B in them help release the energy from the fat, carbohydrates, and proteins you eat.
In trying to regulate cholesterol levels, many people fall into the trap of totally eliminating fats from their menus. You need to cut out the unhealthy fat but should retain fats rich in Omega 3 like those found in walnuts, flaxseeds, fishes like mackerel, herring, and salmon. Bran oil, virgin olive oil, and mustard oil are good for your heart. The worst for heart health are the hydrogenated oils, and margarine. Within limits, ghee and butter are allowable.
Red meats like mutton and beef harm your heart. Therefore, you need low-fat proteins like those obtained from soy; legumes like beans, chickpeas; lean meat, including liver; and diverse kinds of lentils. Pulses are good for reducing the bad cholesterol LDL. Depending on your overall health, and age, you might want to go easy on dairy products. Cottage cheese made from skimmed milk, tofu, and curds is good sources of proteins, which promote your heart’s health. Fish, eggs, and nuts are equally good for you.
They are delicious and appetizing, but delving into samosas, hot dogs, pakoras, pizzas, burgers, bagels, chips, doughnuts, and other fast foods sound warning bells whenever you eat them. They are extremely hazardous for heart health and as dangerous as most processed foods. The numerous ready to eat foods, the different kinds of processed foods like pastries, pies, heat and eat foods, processed meat, even processed cheese do incalculable damage to your heart. Pass up on them whenever possible.
Unless you live in a hot and humid climate which causes severe perspiration, and consequent loss of electrolytes giving you cramps; you would do well to limit your sodium intake. Remember that you get sodium not only from the salt in the food you eat at meals. They are sprinkled on chips, salted nuts, various fries, crackers you might snack on and are found in dips, sauces, and pickles.
Tip: Plan your meals in advance to ensure you don’t get bored with your diet.