While every organ in the body needs to be cared for, the heart assumes a very special place. What is good for the heart can be good for the whole body and the reverse is equally true. The effects of a diet that is unhealthy for the heart is definitely unhealthy for the whole body.
With lifestyle changes like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke are on the rise, the importance of eating a heart healthy diet has assumed all new levels of importance. The following are some of the heart healthy foods that should be a part of everybody’s diet.
- Fatty fishes: Salmon, sardines and mackerel are loaded with generous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and reduce the risk of arterial plaque buildup. They are also rich in antioxidants. Eating fish at least twice a week is recommended; for non-fish eaters, supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended.
- Oatmeal: Oats again are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium. It is also rich in soluble fibre and is believed to lower bad cholesterol and keep the arteries free of plaque. It soaks up the cholesterol in the digestive system and helps manage cholesterol.
- Avocado: This creamy fruit has loads of monounsaturated fat which helps lower the levels of bad cholesterol and improve levels of good cholesterol. They also improve absorption of other carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene, which are also extremely heart friendly.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries reduce the risk of heart attack by almost one-third. These are rich in compounds like anthocyanins and flavonoids which are proven antioxidants. They relax the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure and reduce the incidence of heart attacks.
- Dark chocolate: Chocolate which contains 60-70% cocoa is rich in polyphenols, which helps blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation.
- Olive Oil: Loaded with monounsaturated fats, this helps reduce levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The extra-virgin variety is preferred for cooking in place of regular vegetable oils.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, and macadamia nuts are packed with mono and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, and vitamin E. Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can be added to oatmeal or eaten raw.
- Soy: Soy products, including tofu and soy milk, are ideal for adding protein and reducing cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
- Legumes: These are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fibre.
- Spinach: Helps with its rich content of fibre, folate, lutein,and potassium. In fact, most vegetables have a beneficial effect.
- Green tea: Rich in antioxidants, it reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Include some of the heart healthy foods and see your heart smile!! If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist.