- 14 Oct - 20 Oct, 2017
FIT FOR THE HEART
- 07 Oct - 13 Oct, 2017
- Health & Nutrition
With each passing day, heart diseases are becoming a common health issue; therefore, in order to prevent heart attacks, one must avoid unhealthy food, and eat foods rich in nutrients, fibre, and healthy fats. Here’s a list of super foods that not only keep you fit but also help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Read on to see what you should be including in your diet to keep your ticker happy for decades to come.
Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel are the superstars of heart-healthy foods. That's because they contain copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, shown in studies to lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and decrease triglycerides. Eating fish and preferably fatty fish at least twice a week is recommended by doctors, while omega-3 fatty acids are also available as dietary supplements.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol. It acts as a sponge in the digestive tract and soaks up the cholesterol so it is eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream. Avoiding instant oatmeal is recommended, as it often contains sugar; instead, one should opt for old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats. Other whole grains such as bread, pasta and grits are also good for the heart as long as they still contain the entire grain.
Not just blueberries, but strawberries and other berries as well. According to a 2013 study, women aged 25 through 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 per cent lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. The authors of the study attributed the benefit to compounds known as anthocyanins, flavonoids (which are antioxidants) that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Anthocyanins give plants their red and blue colours.
Several studies have now shown that dark chocolate may benefit your heart, including one in 2012 which found that daily chocolate consumption could reduce nonfatal heart attacks and strokes in people at high risk for these problems. The findings applied only to dark chocolate, meaning chocolate made up of at least 60-70 per cent cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation. Unfortunately, milk chocolate and most candy bars don't make the grade when it comes to protecting your heart.
Women who consume high amounts of flavonoids found in oranges and grapefruits have a 19 per cent lower risk of ischemic stroke (caused by a clot) than women who don't get as much of these compounds, according to a 2012 study. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, consumption of which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Beware of citrus juices that contain added sugar. And be aware that grapefruit products may interfere with the action of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.
There's no reason to shun potatoes because they're white and look like a bad starch. As long as they're not deep fried, potatoes can be good for your heart. They're rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. And they're high in fibre, which can lower the risk for heart disease. They are definitely not junk food or refined carbohydrate and have a lot of health benefits.
This includes almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts, all of which contain good-for-your-heart fibre. They also contain vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol. And some, like walnuts, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Some people in the past have avoided nuts because they're higher in fat, but most of the studies show that people who consume nuts daily are leaner than people who don't. And leaner people are at a lower risk for heart problems. Look for varieties that don't have a lot of added salt.
Because they come from plants, legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas are an excellent source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fat. One study found that people who ate legumes at least four times a week had a 22 per cent lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once a week. And legumes may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. Lowering blood sugar levels is key in helping people avoid diabetes complications, one of which is heart disease.
Long a favourite in Asia, green tea has grown more popular in the West and may bring with it significant health benefits. A 2013 study found that people who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 20 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke compared with people who seldom imbibed the beverage. The findings echo a previous study that found lower rates of death, including death from heart disease, among avid drinkers of green tea. Antioxidants known as catechins may be responsible for the effect.
Broccoli, spinach and kale
When it comes to your health, you really can't go wrong with vegetables. But green vegetables may give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body from potentially harmful compounds. They're also high in fibre and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. Kale also has some omega-3 fatty acids.
Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. One study of heart disease patients found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart. Ultimately, though, it's important to have a variety in your diet. If you don't like pomegranates or can't afford them, reach for apples, which also contain plenty of health-promoting compounds.
Soy products, including tofu and soy milk, are a good way to add protein to your diet without unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats (good for your health), fibre, vitamins, and minerals. What's more, soy may reduce blood pressure in people who eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates. And compared with milk or other proteins, soy protein can actually decrease LDL or bad cholesterol.