foods for heart health

Due to advancement of communication, transportation and technological developments all types and varieties of food items procured from different parts of the world are consumed by people to suit their tastes and needs. Here lies the problem of selecting the appropriate food needed by a particular individual in order to live a healthy life.

While basic energy requirement can be satisfied by consuming food, there are consequences of eating each food. Primarily it must be ensured that the food consumed is not detrimental to health of the heart as any heart related problem or disease, if allowed to prolong or left unattended can prove fatal.

The following foods are considered to be safe and appropriate for a healthy heart.

Ideal foods for heart health

Vegetables

A number of vegetables are available as additional and substitute diet. They are consumed both in raw and cooked forms. Vegetables are low in fat and carbohydrates but rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. In about 100 gm. of vegetable consumed, it provides 65 calories of energy, 17% Recommended Daily Amount of dietary fiber in general, and vitamin A, C, D, BB-12, B-6, magnesium, iron and calcium. But the amount of fat and carbohydrates is insignificant. Some of the heart healthy vegetables are leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, garlic and onion. The list is not exhaustive.

Broccoli provides vitamin C & E, potassium, folate, fiber and calcium. Asparagus provides beta-carotene, fiber and folate.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Kale provides 491 mg. of potassium and good amount of vitamin C dietary fiber and vitamin B- in just 100 gm. serving. Kale is rich in lutein which protects from atherosclerosis and prevents heart attacks. Each and every vegetable has special beneficial health property that is heart friendly.

vegetables

Fruits

Like vegetables, consumption of fruits is also important in controlling the weight of the body and blood pressure which are vital In keeping the heart healthy. While every fruit consumable is basically heart healthy, fruits like, melon, grapes, bananas, berries, apples, oranges and avocado are particularly more heart friendly besides taste. Fresh fruits are high in water content, fiber and vitamin C. Fruits like papaya, oranges and cantaloupes provide the above benefits and also contain high level of beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and magnesium which can prevent heart attack.

fruit bowl

Nuts

Nuts are high in calories and contain essential ingredients like vitamins E and B-2, fiber, folate, minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper and selenium.In addition, nuts have many antioxidants too. Consumption of nuts prevent coronary heart disease. Nuts like almonds and walnuts have the potential to lower the LDL or bad cholesterol. This is very important to maintain the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio. Moreover omega 3 fatty acids in nuts have cardio protective effects. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts are some of the heart friendly nuts.

Whole grains

Whole grains are rich in soluble fiber capable of decreasing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Sprouted whole grains are rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Sprouts increase the digestive process, enhance enzymatic activity in the entire body, accelerates the metabolism process, support the immune system all of which are essential to keep the heart healthy. Being anti-inflammatory sprouts reduce stress on cardiovascular system, increase circulation and prevent atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks.

Oatmeal

The high amount of soluble fiber in oatmeal make it a more heart friendly substitute diet more particularly in diabetics and people who are already suffering due to some heart ailment. Oat meal lowers cholesterol level by acting as a sponge in the digestive tract absorbing cholesterol, preventing absorption in the blood stream.

oatmealbf

Soya products

Products made from soya provide protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals and poly unsaturated fats.  Soya meal and other soy products help in decreasing the LDL cholesterol level.

Tofu from soya

Legumes

Legumes are of plant origin and are heart friendly. They provide good amounts of protein without any harmful fat.  Legumes can lower the blood sugar level which in turn prevents heart diseases.

Olive oil

While oil is an indispensable ingredient in preparation of many dishes, the fat contents in the oil have an adverse effect on the heart.  Olive oil provides an easy way out.  Olive oil is rich in mono saturated fats and reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Both green and black olives are sources of good fat. Extra virgin olive oil is more heart friendly.

oliveus
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Flax seeds

Flax seeds and flax seed oil are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and high soluble fiber content. It has the ability to cure and even reverse diabetes which is necessary for a healthy heart.

Flaxseed on spoon
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Caution

You have to take care in selecting foods for a healthy heart. But it is equally important to reject unhealthy foods like junk foods in order to keep the heart healthy.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.