The term ‘superfoods’ is often used to describe those food items which are particularly rich in nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and are believed to have potential health benefits. Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle is of paramount importance in today’s fast-paced world, where stress and poor dietary choices often take a toll on our cardiovascular health. To ensure a strong and resilient heart, it’s essential to adopt some key practices.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE CONSUMING NUTRIENT DENSE FOOD:
Dr Kamal Gupta, who is the Principal Consultant Cardiology at Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad said that while consuming nutrient-dense foods is generally beneficial for health, it’s important to keep a few points in mind:
1. Variety is key: No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs. Eating a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is essential for a balanced diet.
2. No magic cure: While superfoods are nutrient-rich, they should not be seen as a magic cure for health problems. Overall dietary patterns and lifestyle choices have a more significant impact on health.
3. Individual factors: The benefits of specific superfoods can vary from person to person based on their unique dietary needs, genetics, and health conditions. What’s beneficial for one person may not be the same for another.
4. Balance and moderation: It’s crucial to consume superfoods in the context of a balanced diet. Overconsumption of any food, even a superfood, can have negative consequences.
5. Scientific evidence: Many superfoods have been studied for their potential health benefits, but not all claims are supported by robust scientific evidence. It’s essential to rely on reputable sources and scientific research when evaluating the health claims of specific foods.
DIET TIPS FOR KEEPING HEART HEALTHY:
Dr. Ayan Kar, who is a Consultant – Cardiology (Adult) at Narayana Health RN Tagore Hospital, Kolkata said, “First and foremost, a balanced diet plays a crucial role. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while minimizing saturated and trans fats can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Watching portion sizes and controlling calorie intake is also vital in managing weight, which is directly linked to heart health.”
Additionally, Kanikka Malhotra who is a Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Content Marketing Specialist shared the diet tips for keeping heart healthy:
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables: Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Aim for at least five servings per day.
- Choose whole grains: Whole grains, such as brown rice and millets, are high in fiber and can help lower your risk of heart disease.
- Limit saturated and trans fats: Saturated and trans fats can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. Choose lean protein sources, such as fish and poultry, and limit your intake of processed and fried foods.
- Include healthy fats: Unsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Reduce your sodium intake: Consuming too much sodium can increase your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. Limit your intake of processed foods and choose low-sodium options when possible.
- Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
FOOD ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN DIET TO PROMOTE A HEALTHY HEART:
Kiran Dalal, who is a Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad said that incorporating following healthy foods into your diet can be a great way to promote heart health.
- Salmon and Fatty Fish: These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Oats: Oats are high in soluble fiber, which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins that can support heart health.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and potassium, which are all beneficial for heart health.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Avocado: Avocado is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help lower the risk of heart disease.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) is rich in flavonoids, which may have heart-protective effects when consumed in moderation.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, making it a heart-healthy alternative to refined grains.
- Garlic: Garlic contains allicin, a compound that may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Fruits and Vegetables: In general, a diet rich in a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables provides a wide range of heart-healthy nutrients and antioxidants.
- Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds: These seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.
- Green Tea: Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which may have protective effects on the heart.
OTHER TIPS FOR HEART HEALTHY LIFESTYLE:
Dr. Ayan Kar suggested other tips for heart healthy lifestyle saying that physical activity is another cornerstone of a heart-healthy lifestyle.
He said, “Regular exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, and improves overall circulation. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.”
“Additionally, managing stress through relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can have a positive impact on heart health. Adequate sleep is equally crucial, as it allows the body to recover and rejuvenate.” he added.
Talking about smoking her said, “Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are essential steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle. Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, while excessive alcohol can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart problems.”
In conclusion, prioritizing a heart-healthy lifestyle involves making thoughtful choices in diet, exercise, stress management, and substance use. These habits can go a long way in safeguarding your cardiovascular health and ensuring a longer, more fulfilling life.
[Disclaimer: The information provided in the article, including treatment suggestions shared by doctors, is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.]