Heart Healthy Foods


                                                                                                         Panchali Moitra

Heart is perhaps one of the most tireless organs of our body, constantly ticking and pumping the lifeline blood through our systems. This vital organ needs to be pampered and nurtured, so that it continues to throb effortlessly and effectively. What our hearts crave for is a heart smart diet and sincere adherence to heart protective lifestyle practices.

Get acquainted with the ‘must know” facts about heart friendly foods and improve your triglycerides and cholesterol numbers. Experiment and innovate with these foods and create an appetizing, heart healthy recipe of your own. A heart smart diet would essentially encompass the three basic principles-

  • Increased intake of omega3 fatty acids,
  • Cutting down on saturated and trans fats and a total or partial replacement with mono unsaturated fat sources  and,
  • Lowered use of sodium (or salt) and refined sugar in preparations.

In addition, filling up on fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber rich whole grains is also foremost. A few heart friendly foods which help to keep our heart fit are-

  • Oats, containing beta glucans, a soluble fiber, known to lower bad cholesterol(LDL). The soluble fibre is also important to maintain a good digestive health. Enjoy oats with skimmed milk and fresh fruits as accompaniments.
  • Soybean and its products like tofu, soya nuggets, tempeh and soy milk provide a heart healthy protein alternative to red meats and shell fish. Soy milk contain a protein which is studied to reduce hypertension and prevent heart attacks.
  • MUFA rich oils extracted from olives, groundnuts, canola, flax and sesame seeds. They help to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Fish like sardines, tuna, surmai, mackerel, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which play a key role in reducing the risk to heart ailments. Eat these fish containing healthy fats to break down fibrin (clot forming compound in the blood). Try grilled or steamed fish preparations as heart healthy recipe options.
  • Vitamin E rich dried fruits and nuts like almonds, walnuts help to keep cholesterol levels under check.
  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries which are rich in anti-oxidants. The fibre, polyphenols and an array of vitamins present in the berries make them an ideal heart healthy food.
  • Raw onion and garlic , rich in compounds which prevent platelet aggregation and thus lower risk to progressive clogging of arteries
  • Red wine which improves the good cholesterol (HDL) and prevents LDL oxidation. Drinking a glass of two of red wine twice a week is considered to be good for the heart. They contain a compound called resveratol which fight the free radical damage.

 

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