“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore
More than half of deaths due to stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes were linked to poor diet. It has also been found that over 80% of heart diseases occur in low and middle-income countries, due to lack of practice of a healthy, rich diet. Most of us are aware of the fact that what we eat determines the condition of our health. Heavy eating, processed food platter, and lack of nutrients in the food intake had resulted in a huge surge of cardiovascular diseases around the globe.
Foods that can adversely affect Your Heart
1. Refined or Processed Carbohydrates: These include white bread, low-fiber cereals, White Rice, sweets, etc. They are harmful because of two reasons. Firstly, high processing and refinement eliminate the healthy components of the food such as dietary fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and fatty acids. Secondly, processing adds extra ingredients that are unhealthy, such as trans fats, sodium, and sugars, ultimately destroying the food’s natural structure. This can spike blood sugar in the body.
2. Processed Meat: Meat preserved with preservatives such as salts, nitrites, and others are extremely harmful to the health of your heart. These include hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and other deli meats.
3. Sugary, Carbonated Drinks: Sugary drinks, for example, sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, sports drinks, etc. have tremendous ill-effects on the heart. Did you know, a 12-ounce can of soda contains approximately 10 teaspoons of table sugar. These drinks also increase the probability of weight gain and cholesterol.
Foods beneficial for your Heart
1. Leafy Green Vegetables: In a recent survey, it was reported that the intake of leafy vegetables in the regular diet led to a 16% reduction in heart-related problems. Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, colocasia, and other leafy vegetables are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Moreover, they contain Vitamin K, a strong component that protects arteries and promotes efficient blood clotting.
2. Green Tea: Green tea is known to have multiple benefits, like burning of fat and lowering cholesterol levels, to improve insulin sensitivity. It primarily helps in reducing blood pressure, triglycerides & LDL levels in the body. More than 1300 people showed a decrease in systolic and diastolic pressure after drinking Green Tea regularly.
3. Dark Chocolate: Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids that are antioxidants that boost heart health. It is important to have dark chocolate with high cocoa content of 70%, which helps lower the risks of calcified plaque in the arteries.
Rules to Follow during Food Consumption
1. Reduce your Portion Size: Eat smaller portions of food, but frequently. Overplating and Overstuffing can make you eat much more calories than you intended to. Maximize your food intake content with low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, like fresh fruits and green vegetables.
2. A Regular Diet with Whole Grains: Oatmeals, quinoa, or barley should be included in the everyday diet as they help in regulating blood pressure. Whole grains are a very good source of fiber.
3. Choose Protein sources with Low Fat: These include lean meat, beans, peas, poultry & fish, low-fat dairy products, lentils, and eggs. Fish reduces triglycerides in the body, while legumes reduce fat and cholesterol intake.
4. Create Day-to-Day Schedules and Menus: After studying what is best for your heart, the next step to a healthy heart is abiding by a wholesome routine. Implementing a proper daily menu inclusive of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, green tea, etc. is of utmost necessity. Make sure that you keep varying the contents of the diet since your body requires all the nutrients.
5. An occasional treat does no harm: Changing your eating habits overnight is not easy. Thus, a cheat meal such as a miniburger or a pack of potato chips won’t affect much. But ensure that it stays occasional and not into a daily habit.
With proper planning and implementation of good food choices in the diet, one can easily bid goodbye to heart diseases.