What foods are best if you are suffering from a heart condition?

Health and Nutrition
9.01.2020

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the number one cause of death in the world.  About 17.9 million people died of CVD’s in 2016 which is 31 % of all deaths in the world. Among those who died of CVD’s about 85 % were because of stroke and heart attacks.

A large number of CVD’s can be prevented by cutting down the risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity (1).

 

Here are some foods which have a beneficial effect on heart

There are several foods which have a protective effect on the heart. It may be because they provide dietary fiber or antioxidants or some other valuable constituent. If we are aware of the foods which are good for our heart, we can regularly include them in our daily diet and avail the heart health benefits.

Whole grains

Compared to refined flour and polished grains whole grains have more micronutrients and dietary fiber. The dietary fiber in whole grains or any food products has the ability to lower lipids in the blood and therefore good for heart health.

Fruits

Vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber are abundant in fruits. Fruits also have several components which have antioxidant value. Dietary fiber has a lipid-lowering effect and contributes to heart health.

Antioxidants help in controlling the damage caused by free radicals and thereby reduce the risk of degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Dietary fiber is found in good amounts in green leafy vegetables. They do not have any lipids. They are low-calorie healthy foods. The dietary fiber in leafy vegetables helps in reducing abnormal lipid levels in the blood.

Tomatoes

The colour of tomatoes is because of pigment lycopene which is a non-provitamin A carotenoid. Lycopene is stable while processing compared to many other natural compounds. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant present in tomatoes and it has a beneficial effect on the heart.

Avocados

Avocado has cholesterol-lowering effect because of the monounsaturated fatty acid content and the phytosterols present in it. High serum cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart problems.

Avocados can be part of a balanced diet because they have lipid-lowering effect

Green tea

Drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improves the ratio of good cholesterol (HDL) to bad cholesterol (LDL).

The flavonoids in green tea show cardioprotective characteristics such as anti-oxidant, anti-thrombogenic and anti-inflammatory activities.

Almonds

Dyslipidemia is one of the most important risk factors of CVDs.  Dyslipidemia is elevated levels of total cholesterol or LDL-C  levels and low HDL-C levels. Having about a fistful of almonds daily every day can help reduce dyslipedemia.

Incorporating almonds in the diet is a safe way of tackling dyslipidemia

Walnuts

Walnuts are rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) an essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and it contributes towards heart health. The ALA content of walnuts is considerable, 8-14 % of the total fat content is ALA.

ALA exhibits several heart healthy benefits. It has a positive effect on the blood lipid profile and also helps reduce inflammation.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds have a significant amount of oil that is about 30 % and they contain omega 3 and omega 6 poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).  About 64 % omega 3 fatty acids and about 19 % omega 6 fatty acids are present in chia seed oil on an average basis.

Chia seeds are supposed to be the best source of these fatty acids among known food sources. Omega-3 PUFAs can have a beneficial effect on heart by lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Soybeans

Soybeans are good source of plant protein, dietary fiber and phytoestrogens. All these soy constituents have beneficial effects of heart.

Legumes

Plant proteins are good for heart as they come along with dietary fiber. Legumes are one of the best sources of plant proteins. Both the proteins and the dietary fiber contribute towards heart health.

Oats

Oats contain a good amount of fiber which includes soluble fibre, the mixed linkage β-glucan. Oats have about 10 % fiber and because of it they have beneficial effect on the blood lipid profile.

Garlic

Garlic supplementation has cardiovascular protective effect based on reducing risk factors such as hypertension and total cholesterol. It also reduces surrogate markers of atherosclerosis. Garlic is good for heart health.

Cinnamon

Dyslipidemia is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and cinnamon improves lipid profile hence a very important ingredient to include in your diet.

 

Final word

A balanced diet is a healthy diet which gives you all the essential nutrients. If foods such as the ones given above are a regular part of your balanced diet then your diet also has a protective effect on your heart.

 

References

  1. World Health Organization (2019). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
    https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)

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