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Take care of your heart
Take care of your heart
BOur heart is an organ which works very hard and it works as long as we live without a break! Nutrition has been an important factor which can be used to prevent and treat heart diseases. Nutrition is a critical factor that can increase the risk of heart diseases and it can also support the prevention or slow down the progression of heart diseases based on how it is managed.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) take the lives of 17.9 million people every year, 31% of all global deaths. Four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes.
Factors that affect cardiovascular diseases are
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- The harmful use of alcohol
These factors, in turn, lead people to be afflicted with raised blood pressure, high blood glucose and overweight and obesity, risks that are not good for heart health.
Atherosclerosis is a complex process that allows build-up (or plaque) of substances within the walls of arteries. As the plaque grows the area for blood to flow through reduces. When the blood flow through a coronary artery has reduced the region of the heart that it supplies gets affected. If this condition becomes critical the tissue does not get sufficient oxygen. This is known as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease or atherosclerotic heart disease.
Major components involved in atherosclerosis
- Smooth muscle cells
- Calcium-based mineral complexes
- Connective tissue proteins
A heart-healthy diet has been the basis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment for a long time. Research shows that available evidence supports cardiovascular benefits of nuts, olive oil and other liquid vegetable oils, plant-based diets and plant-based proteins, green leafy vegetables, and antioxidant-rich foods.
What we can do to prevent or slow atherosclerosis:
- Achieve and maintain an ideal body weight
- Maintain total, LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Maintain normal blood pressure levels
- By avoiding excess intake of salt, not more than a tsp spoon of salt a day (4-5 grams)
- Manage blood glucose levels
- By not smoking
- Lead a physically active life by working exercise into the daily routine. 30 minutes of physical activity every day
- Follow healthy dietary habits with low saturated and cholesterol levels in the diet. No trans fats. It is recommended by WHO that the energy from saturated fats should be less than 10 % of the total energy intake
- Regular intake of cholesterol-lowering foods such as soy, oats, lentils, fibre-rich foods, omega 3 fatty acid-containing foods, etc
- Regular intake of fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 4 to 5 serving of fruits and vegetables a day
- Regular health check-ups
- Avoid mental stress and strain
For a healthy heart make sure you eat a balanced diet, be physically active, do not smoke and lead a healthy lifestyle. Check your blood lipid levels, blood glucose levels, and blood pressure regularly. If there is an issue with any of these parameters gets medical attention. Regular checking and controlling these risk factors will go a long way in maintaining good heart health.