If you have been loading up junk foods lately, it's time you put a halt on it as excess consumption of it could possibly take your overall health, especially heart health, for a toss. Consumption of healthy meals and following a healthy lifestyle are cornerstone to preventing the onset of cardiac diseases and controlling risk factors associated with it. A nutrient-rich diet devoid of trans-fats along with less salt and fat content could help you go a long way in maintaining heart health. While most of us have heard this a number of times, we often fail to follow this advice on a daily basis. So we are here to provide you with a diet chart that is a mix of all micro and macronutrients.
Foods That You Can Eat Freely
Load Up On Vegetables
Vegetables add the most important nutrient for heart health - fibre. In addition, most vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, which protect the heart and arteries against free radical damage. They are also low in calories and help fill you up faster, thereby assisting weight goals. They also provide vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium, which are essential for heart health. The recommended serving is 4-5/day. One serving is about 1 cup of leafy greens or half cup of other vegetable. You can incorporate vegetables in your diet in the form of fresh vegetable juices and fresh soups as well.
Fresh lemon water and coconut water are ideal for consumption. Homemade aam panna with less sugar and salt, homemade bel sherbet without sugar are some of the healthy drink options for summers.
Other Than These Daily Meals You Should Have:
They are the main source of energy for our body. Choose whole grains like whole wheat, jau (barley), ragi, and other millets. Traditional cereal grains like bajra, corn, and jowar also pack a nutritional punch and including them in one major meal daily could be beneficial. Oats are particularly heart-healthy and could be effective in controlling cholesterol levels. Grains contain a lot of fibre content and they are naturally low in fats. The recommended serving is 6-7/day. One serving is about a medium chappati, half cup rice, cooked daliya or oats, and one slice of bread. Refined cereals like sooji, chidwa, vermicelli, noodles, pasta and refined flour breads can be taken. We recommend a 80-20 formula, wherein 80% of the cereals are whole grain and 20% from refined cereals.
Legumes provide benefits for the heart by controlling blood sugars, insulin surges and have a positive effect on the blood pressure as well. Scientific studies have pointed towards the benefits of plant-based legumes and proteins over animal proteins for reducing risk factors of cardiac diseases as the former has got lower and healthier fat content and higher fibre content. Proteins are essential in every meal to meet the protein requirements of the body and for increasing satiety. In a non-veg diet, at least one meal should be a plant-based one. Other dals can also be used. The recommended serving is 3-4/week. One serving is half cup of beans like rajma, lobia and soy beans.
Nuts And Seeds
They are a part of plant-based proteins; their efficacy in protecting the heart is well documented. The healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants present in nuts and seeds protect the heart health. Replacing a high-fat protein with a serving of nuts is a smart choice. The recommended serving is one ounce/daily, which is roughly 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
Lean Meat, Poultry And Fish
Meat adds high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc to the meal. Choosing lean cuts with the fat trimmed off will ensure lesser saturated fat and controlling the portions could be beneficial for you. Choosing healthier, low-fat cooking methods like baking, grilling and roasting would also help. Combining meats with whole grains and lots of vegetables is a smart choice. Opt for fatty fish at least once a week for healthy omega-3 fats. Consumption of one whole egg 3-4 times a week for people with normal cholesterol levels is fine.
Dairy provides you with calcium, which is essential for not just bones but also heart muscles. Dahi or yogurt also works as a probiotic and helps in improving the gut health, which is associated with better cholesterol control.
Fats And Oils
Fats are an essential nutrient for the body to function optimally. Choose healthy fats that provide mono-unsaturated fats, poly-unsaturated fats in the right combination. National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) recommends a combination of cooking oils like peanut, safflower, rice bran with mustard or sesame oils. Saturated fats and trans-fats are detrimental to health and must be avoided at all cost. Saturated fats should not exceed 6% of the total calories. The recommended serving is 3-4/day. One serving is 1 teaspoon.
Low in fats and high in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, fibre, and antioxidants, fruits serve as a perfect in-between meal snack or a post meal sweet. Apart from juices, whole seasonal fruits are a good choice to make. The recommended serving is 2-3/day. One serving is a medium-sized fruit or half cup cut fruit.
The portions recommended here are based on a 1600 Kcal diet; these may vary according to what you have been recommended. So make informed food choices and lead a heart-healthy life.
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.