Heart Month 2017: Why a Healthy Diet Should Be Your Priority

   |  Updated: February 14, 2017 19:00 IST

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Heart Month 2017: Why a Healthy Diet Should Be Your Priority
Highlights
  • A healthy heart can take you a long way to good health
  • Exercise and balanced diet are crucial for your heart
  • Here are 10 expert tips to maintain heart health
Happy Valentine's Day 2017! While we may call February the season of love, it is also a month dedicated to matters of the heart i.e it is Heart Month. Health organisations across the globe have come together to spread awareness about heart diseases and how our current lifestyle habits are triggering many dangerous heart diseases. The heart is a vital organ which is responsible for keeping the body functioning by pumping blood, which carries oxygen and removes waste materials, within the body. If the heart stops pumping then our body stops living. It is therefore of utmost importance to take care of the heart and keep it healthy. Now the lifestyles we lead today, with unhealthy eating habits and sedentary way of life, we are making ourselves more and more susceptible to clogging of the arteries, which eventually leads to heart attack. So it is time we started paying more attention to what is good and what we must absolutely avoid.

The first step is to make a few lifestyle changes, which can put you back on the right track to preventing heart ailments. According to a recent study done by University of Maryland in the US, just 30 minutes of running on a treadmill can reshape your damaged heart tissue! So you see it's all about making lifestyle changes. Here are 10 expert tips that can help you get started -



1. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids



Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats that are advised by health experts to be included in one's daily diet. According to a study done by Stanford University, where they pooled in data from various researches that had measured blood or tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids, they found that blood levels of seafood and plant-basedomega-3 fatty acids are moderately associated with a lower risk of dying from heart attacks. They stated that eating omega-3 food sources such as salmon, trout, walnuts and flaxseed oil may significantly cut the incidence of developing a heart disease.

(8 Incredible Sources of Omega 3 Foods)

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2. Eat Fruits Like Cranberries and Blueberries



It's not without reason that health experts advise us to include fruits and veggies in our regular diet. They come loaded with essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that are great for our well-being. Take cranberries for instance. According to a study done by Boston University, cranberries could protect the gut microbiota and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions that benefit the cardiovascular system, metabolism and immune function. Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants called anthocyanin which cuts down cholesterol levels.

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3. Eat Less Salt and Cut Down Junk Food



As much as we love our regional Indian salty snacks, too much of it can cause harm to our health. A recent study conducted by an Australian firm has revealed that Indians love salt a little too much. The study suggests that an average Indian consumes about 119% more salt than the WHO recommendation. Doctors have always recommended to consume less salt because excess of it cause spike up blood pressure levels, leading to heart issues. So you need to cut down on junk and processed food because they contain high amounts of salt.

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4. Dark Chocolates Could Be Good



Good news for dark chocolate lovers! Eating a little bit of dark chocolate daily can actually be good for your heart. Scientists have found that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa products such as dark chocolates may benefit cardiovascular health. They also saw significant declines in blood glucose and insulin, as well as another indicator of insulin resistance called HOMA-IR. But remember, it doesn't apply to white chocolates and chocolate candies which come loaded with sugar.

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5. Sip Healthy Beverages



Most often we don't pay heed to our eating habits. While we love that cup of sugar loaded masala chai early in the morning, it may not be the best thing for your health. Scientists say that green tea and coffee, if made a regular part of the diet, could benefit the heart by reducing risks of stroke. Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and it prevents blood clotting, whereas just two mugs of coffee can cut the odds of cardiac trouble.

green tea

6. Include Whole Grains



According to Dr. Rupali Datta, Consultant Nutritionist, "Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients that provide protection to the heart. Have at least three servings of whole grains in a day. Include whole-grain atta and multi-grain breakfast cereals which provide at least 3-5 gm fiber/serving. Be adventurous, substitute refined cereals with these healthy whole grains: barley, oats, quinoa and buckwheat."

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7. Include Unsaturated Fats



These are the good guys and they include food sources like nuts, salmon, tofu, soy, olive oil, etc. What you must avoid are transfats, which is commonly available in junk food; and reduce saturated fats like red meat, butter, etc. These are known to increase bad cholesterol in the body, which leads to heart issues.

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8. Vitamin C to the Rescue



According to Dr. Gargi Sharma, Weight Management expert, "include Vitamin C rich foods like oranges, lemons, and amla in your diet. It is a proven fact that Vitamin C helps in lowering the risk of heart diseases because of its antioxidant properties."

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9. Exercise and Exercise

Physical activity is a compulsion to maintain a healthy heart. Regular exercise helps in blood circulation and flushing out toxins from the body. According to a Swedish study, moderate amount of physical activity, particularly walking and bicycling for 20 minutes daily, can significantly lower the risk of heart failure. So if you don't have time for your cardio exercises, Zumba, Pilates, etc. just go out for a brisk walk.

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10. Give Up Smoking



Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. The health hazards of nicotine are enormous, leading to various diseases.

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