Heart diseases accounted for about 32 percent of overall deaths worldwide in 2019, according to WHO, and in 2016, India saw 28 percent of total deaths from cardiovascular diseases. Age, family history, lifestyle habits such as smoking or lack of adequate exercise are some of the major factors that can affect the way your heart functions, but that is not all. What you eat can also crucially affect your cardiovascular health.
Besides managing stress, getting proper exercise, and breaking harmful habits, paying attention to your diet can help you with a healthier heart, which, in turn, will improve the overall quality of your life. Small changes such as gradually cutting down on rich food, and being conscious about consuming good fats instead of the unhealthy ones, commonly found in junk food, along with the inclusion of these healthful food items in your daily life, can do wonders for you.
Foods To Eat For A Healthy Heart
1. Leafy greens: Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are powerhouse sources of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Besides many other important vitamins and minerals, they contain Vitamin K and dietary nitrates, which bolster your arterial health. A 2016 review published in the JRSM Cardiovascular Disease suggests that eating leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables could reduce the incidence of heart disease by upto nearly 16 percent. Use fresh spinach in your salad, or add some kale to your green smoothie to reap their benefits.
2. Fatty fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are key in maintaining proper heart health, and fatty fish like salmon, sardine, pomfret, rawas (Indian salmon) and bangda (Indian mackerel) are rich in it. They can decrease triglycerides (a type of lipid in blood formed from unused calories, higher levels of which thicken arterial walls and can inflame the pancreas) and reduce inflammation, leading to lesser chances of stroke. Baked salmon can be a great source of protein in your main meals.
3. Berries: Berries are not only delicious, but also great sources of polyphenols (organic compounds with antioxidant properties), which contribute to better heart function. A Scientific Reports analysis published in 2016 shows that consumption of berries can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, making them an effective food source to manage cardiovascular diseases. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries in your morning cereal are a great way to start off your day.
4.Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, almonds, and other such nuts are rich in unsaturated fats (good fats that are heart-healthy) , antioxidants, and fibre. Seeds like flax and chia are plant-based sources of Omega-3, making them beneficial to mitigate cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Opt for a trail mix of healthy nuts instead of chips the next time you feel like snacking.
5.Whole grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat are higher in fibre than refined grains, and according to a review of studies in The British Medical Journal, adding adequate whole grains to your daily diet could lower the relative risk of cardiovascular diseases by 16 percent. Have a bowl of oats for breakfast, or swap out your usual bread for a whole wheat variant.
6.Dark chocolate: Indulge your sweet tooth and help your heart along the way. Eating dark chocolate can reduce the risk of buildup of calcified plaque in coronary arteries, according to a study from Clinical Nutrition. Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, which is a heart helping antioxidant. Eat chocolate that is at least 70 percent rich in cocoa content in moderate amounts to enjoy its goodness.