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HEALTHY HEART SUPERFOODS: TO AVOID VS TO EAT

Whatever you eat goes straight to your heart. It is widely known that dietary habits affect cardiovascular health. Dr. J.Haythe, MD, is asking us not to restrict ourselves but merely to plan our meals around lean meat such as fish and chicken, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. This article gives you a basic guideline on how to keep your heart healthy by making wise superfood choices.


Heart-Healthy Superfoods

1. Berries, Nuts, and Seeds

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and blackberries among other berries are very rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins and other phytonutrients. The antioxidants contribute to heart health by reducing inflammation and protect against oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals in the body. Berries make up for a great snack for between mealtimes. It is always better to have fresh or frozen berries then dried ones. Amla, also known as the Indian Gooseberry is known to boost cardiovascular health by improving blood lipid profiles. 

Walnuts and Almonds are nutrient-dense superfoods rich in fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain many vitamins and micronutrients such as copper, manganese, magnesium, etc which are crucial for heart health. Keep in mind that nuts are usually high in calories so make sure you eat a controlled portion of nuts daily.

Seeds such as chia, flax, and hemp contain fiber and omega-3-fatty acids essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Hempis high in antioxidants and arginine (an amino acid) which is known to reduce blood levels of inflammatory markers. 

2. Vegetables and Herbs

Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale promote proper blood clotting thus protecting arteries. Spinachis rich in folate which helps to reduce homocysteine, an inflammatory marker. Leafy vegetables are high in dietary nitrates known to decrease arterial stiffness and lower blood pressure. 
 
Garlic is rich in allicin. Allicin is a phytoconstituent known to lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure. For best effects consume it raw, crush it a little and let it sit for a while before cooking as it helps release allicin.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical pigment known for its antioxidant properties. It has various long term cardiovascular benefits.  

3. Wholegrains

Whole wheat, brown rice, ragi, bajra, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, and rye are rich in dietary fiber which plays an instrumental role in decreasing bad cholesterol
Consuming half a cup of oats daily will provide you with a lot of heart-healthy fibers and keep you full for a long period of time, thus preventing unnecessary snacking.  

4. Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3- fatty acids and lean protein. 

It is recommended to have at least three servings of fatty fish every week. Long term consumption of fish is linked to healthy hearts.

If you do not eat fish then you can consume fish oil supplements, krill oil, or argan oil. These prevent blood clots and lower bad cholesterol. 

5. Green Tea

Green tea and matcha powder are overloaded with polyphenols and catechins. 

It has been known for numerous health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and antioxidant activity. 

6. Yogurt

Yogurt is a probiotic superfood packed with calcium and many other micronutrients. 

It helps aid digestion and cleansing your system. It also helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels. It is very easy to digest thus making it the perfect heart-healthy snack.

7. Soy Protein

This is a perfect option for vegans! There are several options in the form of soybean nuggets, soy milk, tofu, fermented soybeans, etc. 

Soy protein is an excellent replacement for red meat protein. They also have a high fiber content which is not found in red meat. 

Soybeans are also known to contain omega-3- fatty acids and vitamins, making them the perfect food for a healthy heart. 

8. Avocado

Avocadois a wonder fruit, it is a very rich source of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats (phytosterols), dietary fibers, antioxidants, and potassium, all of which are known to reduce cholesterol levels. 
Avocados also contain a huge collection of vitamins; Vit K, Vit C, Vit E, Vit B5, and B6, amongst many other nutrients. 


Foods Bad For Your Heart

1. Processed Meat and Red Meat

Red meat is sourced from beef, lamb, pork and mutton. It contains high saturated fats and is known to boost cholesterol levels in the blood, long term consumption can lead to many cardiovascular problems.

Bacon is delicious but it’s also very dangerous for your heart! It is a type of processed meat hence it contains a lot of salt and saturated fat known to raise blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Processed meats are the worst types of meat for your heart! Hot dogs, salami, bologna, deli ham, etc are all preserved using high amounts of salts. High salt consumption is linked to a lot of health problems including increased blood pressure.  

2. Foods with a high sugar content

Baked goods such as cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and muffins are doing no favors to your heart! They’re loaded with saturated fat, oils, and sugar. Most baked goods have high quantities of white flour in them and that makes your blood sugar spike high. The solution is not to completely sacrifice your love for desserts but to bake healthier alternatives. Use whole wheat and heart-healthy oils.

Sugary soft drinks and juices are overloaded with more sugar content than your body needs. In fact, they don’t contain any nutrients essential for sustenance. The alarming amount of sugar content is very detrimental to cardiovascular health and increase the chances of weight gain.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Refined and processed carbs such as white rice, white bread, breakfast cereals, etc. are so highly processed that they lose their nutritional values and are known to spike your blood sugar levels to a high extent. It is best to eat whole grains

 

Related blog: WAYS TO HANDLE HEART EMERGENCIES


References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods#section15

  2. https://www.comfortkeepers.ca/toronto/blog/heart-healthy-foods-seniors-tips-toronto-caregivers/

  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/avoid-these-foods-for-a-healthier-heart

  4. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-bad-heart

  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/berry-good-for-your-heart

  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/avoid-these-foods-for-a-healthier-heart

  7. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-bad-heart

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