Make sure your diet is heart-friendly by making these healthy changes

It is a well-known fact that the health of the heart forms the general nucleus wellness. It beats about 2.5 billion times in its average lifetime and pushes millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This constant flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, nutrients, other compounds and a host of essential cells. It also removes waste from metabolism.

“As such, many essential body functions fail when the heart stops working, some stopping almost instantly. It can also fail when its health is compromised by poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, infection and more. A healthy lifestyle, especially when started at an early age, goes a long way in preventing cardiovascular disease or any other disease or condition,” said Anam Golandaz, Clinical Dietitian, Masina Hospital, Byculla, Mumbai.

The expert went on to share some important points that will help with heart health.

The way to improve heart health

Following these nutritional strategies can help you reduce or even eliminate some risk factors, such as lowering total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol; lowering of blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides; and reducing body weight.

Control the portion size

Overcrowding your plate, taking seconds, and eating until you’re full can cause you to eat more calories than your body needs. “These extra calories it will make you gain weight and be overweight and obese – the main causes of heart disease. Follow some simple tips to control portion sizes – Use a small plate or bowl; eat more low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and eat fewer foods high in calories and sodium, such as refined, processed, or fast food.

heart health Make sure you prevent heart health scares with these diet tips (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Be smart about fats

Contrary to popular belief, some fats are actually good for us and our hearts. When using fats for cooking, choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil or canola oil. Avocados are also a good source of monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats (found in nuts and seeds) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish like tuna and salmon) are also healthy choices. In general, try to avoid trans fats that are typically found in processed foods and snacks, such as baked goods or packaged foods. Look for the words “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredients label to find out if a food contains trans fats.

What is the difference between healthy fat and unhealthy fat?

Saturated and trans fats can be harmful to the heart and arteries. A rule of thumb for a heart-healthy diet is to cut back on these harmful fats, but include moderate amounts of healthy fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats. These are good for our hearts.

Go with whole grains

Whole grains such as wheat, oats, buckwheat or whole grain bread or pasta are richer in fiber, magnesium, manganese, selenium, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates. Choose them over white bread or regular pasta.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

They contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are good for the heart and the body in general.

Prepare the meat healthy

Instead of roasting, try baking, roasting and roasting as these are the healthiest ways to prepare meat and poultry. Also, trim off the outer fat or skin before cooking.

Don’t forget the beans

Dried beans, peas, soybeans, and lentils are good sources of protein and fiber. They are also rich in minerals without the saturated fat found in some animal proteins. Eating beans as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle can also help improve blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease.

Choose low-fat dairy

Choose fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, yogurt and cheese products, as they are high in saturated fat.

Include lean protein

Eat protein-rich foods, including fish, lean meat, skinless poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and beans.

What should you avoid eating?

A heart-healthy diet limits some nutrients. These include spices without salt instead of salt.
Packaged foods, sauces, canned foods, and processed foods are high in sodium.
Sweetened drinks, snacks and jams are the main source of added sugars in our diet. These include sodas, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, cakes, pies, ice cream, candies, syrups and jellies. Limit these types of foods and drinks.

Limit your alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and cause weight gain. It can also contribute to or worsen heart failure in some people.

“Know that no one food can make you healthy instantly, so your overall eating pattern is more important than specific foods,” Golandaz said.

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