Categories: Cardiology

A Hearty Meal – Steps to prevent Heart Disease

Hearty diseases kill, but heart diseases can be kept away. Food has an important role in ensuring the hearty health of the heart.

A good healthy heart needs regular exercise. What we eat matters since many heart problems are the result of consuming unhealthy foods.

The right food can help lower cholesterol, control blood pressure, blood sugar levels and help avoid being overweight. Right food means a holistic diet since no single source of food can magically give all-round good health. To incorporate a variety of healthy foods into the diet, as a routine part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Good Food steps:

Limit solid fat. Reduce consuming fats like butter, vegetable oils. Reduce or banish fatty foods from the diet. Use more healthy cooking oil options such as canola, olive, safflower, or sunflower.

Be label-savvy. Check food labels. Even those labelled “reduced-fat” could contain trans-fats. One clue to the presence of trans-fat is the misleading phrase “partially hydrogenated.” Look for hidden fat, refried beans could have lard, breakfast cereals could contain significant amounts of fat. Packaged foods carrying labels “cholesterol-free” or “low cholesterol” may not, in reality, be heart-healthy. Stick to basics: fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and lean proteins.

Avoid saturated or trans-fats, both increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Trans-fat lowers levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Foods with high levels of saturated fats or trans fats (potato wafers and biscuits, for instance) can increase cholesterol levels.

Have foods lowering cholesterol, unsaturated fats, fibre, fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, oatmeal, walnuts (and other nuts), and olive oil.

Reduce canned or processed foods, excess salt intake is largely from canned or processed foods. Even poultry or other meats often have salt added during processing. Bakery products are generally high in salt. To reduce sodium intake, eat more fresh foods, homemade soups, and stews.

Make healthy substitutions, skimmed milk instead of whole milk, ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter. Low-fat substitutions go a long way to keeping the heart-healthy. Choose condiments and packaged foods carefully.

More home-made food, make healthy eating easier by freezing heart-healthy foods in individual portions. Use low-fat methods. Bake, broil, microwave, roast, steam, poach, lightly stir fry or sauté, use a small amount of vegetable or olive oil, reduced-sodium broth, and spices. Cooking healthy food at home is time-saving, money-saving and a heart-saving strategy.

More high-fibre foods have high-fibre breakfast cereals, brown rice, barley, whole grains, flours like bajra. These alternatives are higher in fibre. Legumes are fibre-rich too, so too are beans, peas, lentils, fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain crackers. Nuts are a healthy high-fibre source.

Small helpings, eat moderate-sized portions. A healthy serving size may be a lot smaller than reckoned. Serving size needs the use of measuring cups, spoons and a food scale. In India, most restaurants serve miserly food portions but restaurants overseas can serve food for one that can do for two.

Dr. Priyank Bhatt, Consultant Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgeon (CTVS), Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Ahmedabad

Narayana Health

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