Do you love your heart? Here’s how to care for it

A healthy Heart. A dream for all. Although most of us are aware that bad eating habit increases the chance of a heart attack, the fact is, it is a combination of a number of factors that promote a healthy heart.

“Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s largest killers, claiming 17.3 million lives a year. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, smoking, inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.”(1)  This is a press release statement from WHO, which in a nutshell tell about the reason for a heart attack.

What is the need of the hour?(2)

1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Top foods for a healthy heart (3)
· Salmon / Tuna / Sardines: They are rich in Omega 3 that helps in reducing blood clots, inflammation and keeps the cholesterol at a healthy level.
Tandoori Fish, sardines greens stew, fish in mustard gravy

· Spinach – rich in folate, helps in reducing homocysteine, a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Palak chicken, Paneer Palak

· Apples – contain phytochemical called quercetin, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and blood clots.

· Soy protein – Very good substitute for red meat protein, also reduces saturated fat intake.
Soya gravy, whole wheat soy dosa

· Broccoli/okra (ladies finger)/flax seeds – high in folic acid
Flax seed chutney powder, broccoli and roasted garlic soup, okra masala

· Lentils – Substitute for red meat protein, rich in fibre. George Mateljan, the author of The World’s Healthiest Foods, calls magnesium “nature’s own calcium channel blocker” — a type of drug that fights hypertension.
Dal maharani, channa chaat, rajma gravy

· Walnuts/almonds – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, fibre, heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats and phytosterols.
Walnut cauliflower soup

· Pomegranates – activates an enzyme that breaks down oxidized cholesterol.

· Garlic – has antioxidant properties which protect the heart and lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Simple garlic dal

10 to foods to avoid
· Red meat
· Deep fried foods
· Ice cream
· Hydrogenated oils – eg. Margarine
· Hot dogs, hamburgers
· Chips, high fat snacks
· Candy
· Full fat milk
· Cookies, biscuits
· Salt (if you have high blood pressure)

2. Exercise
BMI Calculator (4):  This calculator will give you an idea as to how healthy you are?
How to assess your Body Mass Index

Under 25 – healthy weight
25 – 30 – overweight
30+ – obese

3. Avoid tobacco (5)
· Smoking damages the lining in your arteries, which narrows the artery leading to increased pressure on your heart.
· The carbon monoxide in tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which again puts pressure on your heart to pump harder to achieve the required level of supply of oxygen to the different organs.
· Nicotine stimulates the production of adrenalin which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure.

4. Control alcohol consumption
Although many reports claim that drinking is good for the heart, it depends on how much and what you consume.

How drinking effects you as a person:
· Sleep disturbances
· Mood and personality changes
· Anxiety
· Depression
· Shortened attention span
· Coordination problems, including asterixis, which results in hand shaking or flapping
· Coma
· Death

5. Keep your blood pressure under control
As discussed above smoking and bad food habits along with a sedentary lifestyle are a few reasons for a raised blood pressure.

6. Keep your diabetes under control (6)
People suffering from Diabetes Type 1 and 2 are more likely at risk of having strokes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases may go undetected for years, leading to silent heart attack.

7. Know your family history
Diabetes and heart diseases are more hereditary, therefore knowing your family history, helps you keep the check on yourself.

8. Have a good sleep
National Sleep Foundation recommends

Till some years back I used to sit up till late and sleep in the morning, until I was recommended by an Ayurveda Doctor to sleep at 9 pm. I now follow this routine, which has done me a lot of good.

Why the doctor asked me to sleep at 9 pm:
1 hour of sleep between 9pm to 10pm = to 4 hours of sleep
1 hour of sleep between 10pm to 11pm = to 3 hours of sleep
1 hour of sleep between 11pm to 12pm = to 2 hours of sleep
1 hour of sleep between 12pm onwards = to 1 hour of sleep

Reference:
1. Food reference: About.com, WebMD, ABC News
2. WHO – Press release.
3. Preventing Heart Disease – NHS
4. BMI Calculator – NHS
5. British Heart Foundation – Smoking
6. Diabetes.co.uk on Diabetes and Heart Attack

Courtesy: Abraham Chacko/Chacko’s Kitchen

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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