The heart is an extremely important organ in the human body. As a result, the heart requires the utmost care and protection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.9 million people died worldwide in 2019 as a result of heart disease. From that point forward, the number has only grown.
This figure accounts for 32% of all global deaths in 2019. The most damage is being done to the heart these days, with an increase in sedentary lifestyles and junk and fast food consumption. Do you know why? This article provides an answer to the question.
How Does the Heart Work?
You’ve probably heard that the heart circulates blood throughout the body. However, this is not its primary role. The major job of the heart is to give oxygen to the rest of the body’s organs.
It also transports deoxygenated blood from the organs to the lungs. It then travels from the lungs to the heart. The oxygenated blood then circulates throughout the body.
In the human body, the heart collaborates with the circulatory system. The circulatory system is made up of arteries, veins, blood vessels, and blood itself.
The heart is located between the lungs in the chest. It has a small tilt to the left of the human body. Furthermore, the arteries transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the organs.
The veins transport deoxygenated blood away from the organs. The fluid is then returned to the lungs for reoxygenation. This cycle continues throughout the course of life.
The key to optimal heart health is understanding the proper balance of nutrients and foods you consume. A well-balanced diet is the best and most dependable diet for excellent health.
This diet provides 40-60% carbs, 15-20% protein, and the remainder of the energy from complex carbohydrate sources. Furthermore, 10-13 percent comes from good protein sources, with the remainder coming from good fat.
Carbohydrates are derived from whole grains and pulses such as whole wheat, millets, oats, and so on. For rotis and breads, use whole grain flour instead of refined flour.
Protein comes from high-quality animal sources such as eggs, lean meats, and dairy, as well as plant sources such as pulses and legumes.
Fats: Good sources include nuts, oilseeds, and fatty seafood. Tuna, salmon, and mackerel are a few examples.
Vitamins and minerals can be obtained from a variety of fruits and vegetables.
These will also provide you with fibre and help to keep your heart healthy.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
This diet is the result of years of research and has been shown to be effective against hypertension and heart disease. The DASH diet provides 30 grammes of protein per serving. This diet’s guidelines are as follows:
- 5 servings of vegetables each day
- 5 servings of fruits each day
- Carbohydrates: 7 servings per day
- 2 servings of low-fat dairy per day
- 1-2 servings of lean meat per day
- 20-30 grammes of nuts and seeds per week
Healthy Food Sources to Include:
- Green leafy veggies such as spinach, amaranth, and others.
- Complex carbohydrates such as split wheat, cracked wheat, rolled oats, Ragi, Jowar, and Bajra, among others.
- Pulses, legumes, and beans
- Fruits with a low glycemic index
Healthy Fats You Can Include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Tuna and salmon are both fish.
- Almonds and pistachios are examples of nuts.
- Hemp seeds with flaxseeds
- Protein Sources You Can Include:
- Dairy with low fat
- Fish with chicken
Diet of the Mediterranean
This diet can assist you in meeting the dietary criteria for a healthy heart.
Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes; low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and
Carbonated beverages, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats should all be avoided.
Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. This manner of eating, on the other hand, can help prevent them. A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil, for example, may aid in the removal of excess cholesterol from arteries and the prevention of blood vessel clotting.
Diets that are vegetarian or vegan
Plant-based diets, such as veganism and vegetarianism, have been shown in studies to benefit heart health. The following foods may be included in this diet:
- Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, cereals, and millets
- Protein sources include beans, nuts, plant-based milk, and so on.
- Fruits and vegetables include vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts and oilseeds provide healthy fat.
- Dairy products derived from milk (only in case of vegetarians)
- This diet lowers cholesterol and promotes cardiovascular health.
Diet High in Antioxidants
This diet, as the name implies, comprises foods high in antioxidants. The primary cause of poor heart health is inflammation caused by stress, lifestyle, and pollutants. Consume meals high in antioxidants to keep your heart healthy.
Antioxidants have been shown to lessen inflammation in the body. Because they reduce free radicals, they cause inflammation. The free radicals stop the harm in the body after binding. As a result, it aids in the reduction of inflammation and the maintenance of a healthy heart. The following foods are high in nutrients and should be included in this diet:
- Red bell peppers
- Fruits with citrus peel
- Kidney beans, red
- Apples and plums
- Cabbage in red
- Grain (whole)
- Vegetables with dark green leaves
Diets like the ones stated above are very precise. These diets may be difficult to follow because to differences in culture, geography, and season. To make this process easier, a balanced diet is preferable to following a specialised diet. To maintain a balanced diet, please include the following foods in your diet.
Carbohydrates that are complex
This is a list of whole grains and millets. You’re probably wondering what the distinction is between complex carbs and normal carbohydrates. Let’s crack the case today.
Carbs that are consumed on a regular basis are refined carbohydrates. These are highly polished and have no husk or skin, the outer covering. When the husk is taken from the grain, many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beta-glucans are lost. And we are left with nothing but calories, such as maida or refined wheat flour.
Refined flour is used to make a variety of delightful and unhealthy food items such as cakes, pastries, muffins, puff pastry, kachori, paratha, and so on. The use of refined carbohydrates is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, come with their husk. It means they are ground into a fine powder and then coated with an outer coating. As a result, the nutritional value skyrockets, and it’s high in vitamins, minerals, and a variety of other nutrients.
The complex carbohydrates’ phenolic acids, phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals prevent inflammation and plaque development. Reduced plaque formation in the arteries of the heart results in a healthy heart. As a result, complex carbs contribute to heart health. Complex carbs can be found in the following foods:
- Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi are millet flour substitutes.
- Whole wheat flour combined with millet flour
- Oatmeal, Quinoa, Broken Wheat, and Dalia Barley
Foods High in Protein
These are high biological value protein sources, such as egg, chicken, and fish, which provide the body with all of the required amino acids. Amino acids are your body’s building blocks.
They aid in the development of strong muscles and supply the body with the strength it requires to function normally. It’s important to remember that red meat is bad for your heart. In addition, red meat raises cholesterol levels, which is bad for the heart.
White meat, on the other hand, is lean and provides necessary protein to the body without the addition of detrimental fat. As a result, it promotes heart health.
It is critical to understand how to cook chicken and fish. Pan-frying, baking, and stewing are far superior techniques to roasting or grilling. Foods that have been roasted or grilled may contain carcinogenic residues. As a result, avoid such dishes and reserve them for rare occasions.
Fats That Are Beneficial
Yes, you read that correctly: fats are good for you. Fats are classified in a variety of ways. This category covers both saturated and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are bad for the heart and the body because they raise cholesterol levels, which is bad for heart health. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are significantly healthier and better for the heart.
They are as follows:
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) (PUFA)
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) (MUFA)
These fatty acids can be obtained from the following sources:
- Tuna, salmon, and mackerel are examples of fatty fish.
- Cashews, almonds, and walnuts are examples of nuts.
- Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and other seeds
- Olive oil, rice bran oil, and other plant-based oils
Best Foods for Cardiovascular Health
Berries, particularly strawberries and blueberries, are high in antioxidants and provide a variety of health advantages. One of these is lowering blood pressure and thereby improving cardiovascular health.
Berries contain anthocyanin, a flavonoid. This flavonoid is vasodilatory in nature. This property aids in the dilation of blood vessels and the relaxation of smooth muscles. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure, promoting heart health. Furthermore, studies show that berries have vasodilatory characteristics.
Berries: Health Advantages
- Blood pressure is reduced.
- It possesses anti-aging benefits.
- As a result, your skin and hair will be healthier.
- Because it is high in antioxidants, it has anti-cancer properties.
- Prevents the body from developing different degenerative diseases, for example.
Berries are best consumed in the following ways:
To begin, make your smoothie by blending it with low-fat yoghurt.
The smoothie can then be consumed as a fruit source for a mid-morning snack.
Finally, it can be used as a topping for morning cereals and other foods.
Bananas have a place in every household. Furthermore, it is inexpensive and nutritious. It contains a lot of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that aids in heart health by lowering blood pressure.
This mineral helps eliminate sodium from your body, which lowers the effect of sodium in your body. The salt exits your body via the kidneys, decreasing blood pressure.
Salt buildup in the body raises blood pressure, and sodium removal lowers blood pressure, promoting heart health.
The Advantages of Bananas
- High in calories and serves as a healthy post-workout snack
- Fibre content is high, which aids digestion.
- It contains calcium, which aids in the formation of stronger bones, among other things.
Best Ways to Eat Bananas:
As a post-workout fruit
Breakfast cereal topping
When combined with low-fat dairy, it makes an excellent smoothie.
Yes, you read that correctly! Dark chocolate has been shown to successfully reduce blood pressure levels. It is, however, only applicable to chocolates containing at least 60–75 percent dark chocolate.
The presence of cocoa in chocolate is critical to its mechanism. Cocoa contains a flavonoid that aids in the prevention of high blood pressure. Furthermore, it stimulates nitric oxide and boosts its bioavailability, lowering plaque development in blood vessels.
This dilates the blood vessels and decreases blood pressure, so boosting heart health. The claim is also supported by research.
To gain the blood pressure-lowering effects of chocolate, consume 10 grammes of dark chocolate on a regular basis. Remember that it should have a high cocoa percentage with a low sugar and fat content.
The following are some of the advantages of dark chocolate:
- Blood pressure is reduced.
- High in antioxidants
- It makes your skin look younger and has anti-cancer properties.
- Helps with weight loss, and so on.
- Consumption methods that work well
- As a snack or as a garnish for smoothie bowls
- To enhance the flavour of smoothies
- As a garnish for morning cereals, for example.
Beetroots, also known as beets in various parts of the world, are good for your heart. This is because beetroot contains nitrate, which your body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide serves as a vasodilator, relaxing the smooth muscles of the heart.
A vasodilator relieves blood vessel pressure by expanding them. As a result, it lowers blood pressure and so improves heart health. Nitrates in beetroot can be found in both raw and cooked forms.
According to research, you should take 500 mL of beetroot juice everyday to gain the blood pressure-lowering advantages of beetroot. However, before deciding on the quantity, it is best to consult an expert healthcare specialist.
The following are some of the advantages of beetroot:
- Weight loss is aided by the low calorie content.
- Its high fibre content relieves constipation and improves digestion.
- It aids in the reduction of high blood pressure.
- Gives skin a youthful appearance
Consumption methods that work best:
As a beverage
Toss into salad
Serve with multigrain roti or bread as a side dish.
As a smoothie, for example.
It is a well-known complex carbohydrate and a popular source for people looking to lose weight. The fascinating aspect about oats, though, is that it helps enhance heart health and lower high blood pressure.
Furthermore, oats contain a significant level of fibre, which aids in early satiety. Oats contain a particular type of soluble fibre known as beta-glucan. This type of fibre lowers cholesterol and the production of plaque in the blood vessels.
When plaque development decreases, it becomes easier to flow through the small blood arteries. Similarly, when blood flows readily through the minute capillaries, blood pressure is normal (tiny blood vessels). As a result, this is how oats aid to improve heart health.
The following are some of the advantages of oats:
- It aids with weight loss.
- Assists with digestion
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Controls blood glucose levels
- Consumption methods that work well
- As a breakfast cereal with milk
- It can be used to add crunch to smoothies.
- It can be turned into a pancake.
- You can make it as a snack with chicken.
Fish with Fat
Good fat is found in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, and others. They include unsaturated fat ( omega3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids). These lipids have anti-inflammatory properties.
They keep the heart healthy by preventing plaque formation and clotting in the arteries. These fats are advantageous because they increase the rate of metabolism in the body. Furthermore, the fibre in certain fish species aids with weight loss by providing early satiety.
Fatty fish is high in nutrients. It is a protein with a high biological value that is swiftly metabolised in the body. Aside from excellent fat and protein, fatty fish provides minerals such as selenium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K.
According to research, eating fatty fish helps maintain a healthy heart, improves cognitive function, and regulates blood glucose levels.
Some of the greatest ways to eat fish are as follows:
Tossing it with your favourite vegetables and baking it
It can be steamed with your favourite spices.
There aren’t many fat-containing fruits. Avocado, on the other hand, is one of the few fruits that contains fat. It does, however, contain beneficial fats (PUFA) and (MUFA). These fats are omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely healthy for you.
Several studies have found that avocado may provide heart-health benefits. For starters, it is high in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, making it healthy. Second, avocado contains plant cholesterol known as beta-sitosterol, which aids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Third, it is high in antioxidants and has a good level of potassium. Potassium aids in the maintenance of the body’s osmolality. Simultaneously, antioxidants defend your body from degenerative diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and others.
The best method to eat avocado is to:
Bake it with eggs or chicken.
Adding it to a salad
Making it into a nutritious dip
Chia seeds are the latest superfood for health-conscious people. It’s one of the most talked-about dishes, and for good reason. It is really beneficial to one’s health. However, one of the lesser-known facts about chia seeds is that they contain a significant amount of healthy fat.
These seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid (ALA). In addition, they are high in fibre. Several studies show that chia seeds can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, aid in weight loss, and provide healthier skin.
The following are some of the finest methods to ingest chia seeds:
By including it into your smoothie.
By sprinkling it on top of your salad
When you want to munch on something for your mid-morning or mid-meal snack, nuts are a wonderful choice. Nuts are high in magnesium and vitamins A, E, and K, in addition to being a wonderful source of healthful fat, plant-based protein, fibre, and other nutrients.
Nuts aid in the prevention of various ailments, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Furthermore, eating nuts on a regular basis helps to improve cognitive function and memory.
Almonds, walnuts, and cashew nuts are the greatest nuts to eat for their health advantages.
However, keep in mind that salted nuts should not be consumed because too much salt can induce an increase in blood pressure.
According to research, eating nuts reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and aids in the maintenance of a healthy heart.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is another another popular food with several health benefits. As a result, people consume it and apply it to their skin. Several studies have shown that it has numerous health benefits.
Olive oil includes oleic acid, which is required for proper physiological functioning. It is anti-inflammatory in nature. Furthermore, it aids in weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and heart health.
Other Methods for Improving Heart Health
- 7-8 hours of sleep every day
- Be physically active five days a week, and add 30 minutes of exercise each day. Every week, 150 minutes of physical activity.
- Reducing the amount of junk food consumed
- Eating meals at the appointed times and adhering to a good dietary pattern
- Make certain that your diet includes foods from all dietary categories.
- Maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle
Some precautions to take:
If you’re on blood thinners, don’t eat too much of these items. It may result in the medicines and food items acting in tandem, which could be hazardous.
If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid meals high in vitamin K. Vitamin K aids in blood clotting, which may assist to lower blood pressure. Vitamin K-rich foods include the following:
- Collard greens Broccoli
- High-fat milk and red meat
- Cheeses, both hard and soft
- High-fat yoghurt
- Mustard greens (Kale)
Factors that Have a Negative Impact on Heart Health
Salt: It is important to avoid using table salt at all costs. However, you can add a pinch of salt to your cuisine. However, you should avoid eating salted nuts, crackers, and other snacks.
These dishes include a lot of salt sprinkled on top, which causes a rise in sodium in the body, lowers blood pressure, and affects heart health.
Caffeine causes your body to secrete adrenaline, which raises blood pressure by narrowing blood vessels. Adrenaline inhibits the anti-diuretic hormone.
When this hormone is blocked, the breadth of the blood arteries narrows, resulting in high blood pressure and a deterioration of heart health.
Calcium binds to blood arteries as a result of alcohol consumption. When calcium clings to blood arteries, blood cannot easily move through them. As a result, it raises blood pressure, which affects the heart.
Junk food and fast meals include a lot of saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels. As a result, this has a negative impact on the heart. As a result, it is better to avoid them.
Sleep deprivation lowers metabolism, which causes weight gain. Obesity is caused by excess weight, which is damaging to the heart. As a result, maintain a regular and healthy sleep cycle.
Obesity is caused by a sedentary lifestyle without exercise, which is harmful to the heart. As a result, maintain an active lifestyle to keep your heart healthy.
Stress is harmful to the heart. It is one of the major causes of a heart attack. You should avoid overthinking and stressing over things. Being happy and exercising both aid in stress reduction.
Heart Disease Symptoms
- recurring severe headaches
- Nasal bleeding
- Tiredness and exhaustion
- Shoulder or chest discomfort
- Sleeping difficulties
- Indigestion and nausea
- Confusion, less capacity to think clearly
- Chest discomfort
- Arethmia, or irregular heartbeat, is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly.
- Breathing problems or difficulties breathing easily
- Extreme anxiousness due to urine in the blood
- Sweating or perspiration
- Experiencing vertigo or dizziness?
- Having difficulty getting a good night’s sleep
- Blood splatters in the eye
A healthy heart translates to a healthy body. Maintaining a healthy heart requires a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
Please avoid excessive alcohol consumption and chain smoking, as both have a negative impact on the heart. Check for signs of an unhealthy heart and visit a doctor if you notice any of them.
Try to avoid the factors that contribute to heart disease. A nutritionist can assist you in developing a heart-healthy food plan.
Questions and Answers (FAQs)
Q. What are the symptoms of a heart problem?
A. Symptoms of a sick heart include uneasiness, nausea, indigestion, impaired capacity to think, disorientation, pain in the chest, Arethmia (irregular heartbeat), painful breathing, or difficulty breathing easily.
Q. How can I keep my heart healthy?
A. Here are some methods to keep your heart healthy: Sleeping for 7-8 hours per day, being physically active five days a week, working out 30 minutes each day for a total of 150 minutes of physical activity per week, limiting junk food, eating meals at predetermined meal times, and adhering to a proper dietary regimen Please ensure that all food groups are included in the diet, as well as a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
Q: How much cardio should I exercise to improve my heart health?
A. Cardio workouts are good for the heart because they raise the heart rate, which causes the heart to pump more blood. Cardio activities for 3-4 days a week for 30-40 minutes each day will result in optimal heart health. On other days, one can practise strength training as well as other physical activities such as yoga, weight lifting, swimming, and so on.
Q. Can walking help with heart health?
A. Walking does help to improve heart health. Walking for 30-45 minutes each day will enhance heart health greatly when compared to a sedentary lifestyle. Please keep in mind that the time of your stroll should be gradually increased. Walking pace should also rise over time. Brisk walking is preferred over slow or average walking.
Q. What should I avoid for good heart health?
A. Junk food, fast food, highly processed foods, salty foods, roasted foods, fatty cuts of meat, and so on should be avoided for excellent heart health. A healthy diet combined with an active lifestyle will benefit your heart.
Q. Can stress harm your heart?
A. Yes, it can harm the heart. Anxiety leads to stress, and stress is harmful to the heart. As a result, this is a major cause of heart attack. It would be beneficial if you would not overthink and obsess over things. Being happy and exercising assist to prevent stress and heart disease.
Q. Can mental stress lead to heart disease?
A. Yes, it can cause cardiac problems; emotional stress is bad for the heart since it can cause arrhythmia and elevated heart rate. This, in turn, may result in hypertension. As a result, you should avoid emotional stress. Seek assistance from others by connecting with them and releasing yourself of emotional stress. Exercise also aids in the reduction of emotional stress and heart problems.
Q. When should I be concerned about palpitations in my heart?
A. If you experience heart palpitations, you should see a doctor. Try to figure out what’s causing it. Communicate with others and get help if you are experiencing stress or anxiety. It could potentially be a side effect of the medication you’re taking. A healthy diet and regular exercise should help to prevent heart palpitations.