Shivangana Vasudeva, NDTV, Updated: April 03, 2014 13:26 IST
Gone are the days when heart ailments were considered to be an old age disease. Today, people in the prime of their lives are suffering from the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle and bad eating habits.
We have read enough about how you should exercise, get proper sleep and lead a healthy lifestyle but what we don't realize is, how crucial a role diet plays. The enemies of the heart are those foods that increase your cholesterol levels, as they tend to be calorie-heavy too.
Here's what you need to avoid -
Trans fat is the biggest culprit. However, the question here is how can you eliminate trans fat from your diet? Simply by slashing foods that contain 'hydrogenated oils' in their ingredients. So the next time head to departmental store, read labels carefully. Keep at an arm's distance packaged snacks and chips. Swapping full fat dairy products like milk and cheese with low/non fat options helps too.
You might be a hardcore non-vegetarian but maybe it is time to make a change now. Red meat is known to have a whopping amount of saturated fat that raises your 'bad' LDL cholesterol level and has long been seen as unhealthy.
This all time breakfast favorite can have more cholesterol than you'd ever imagine. Research proves that the more egg yolks you eat, the higher is the risk of inflammation of the arteries.
Salt and Sugar
Let's face it. We all crave for that sugary tart or a bite of the salt-crusted potatoes but have you ever thought how harmful it can be? Too much sodium and sugar intake is directly linked with higher blood pressures, as it retains the excess fluid in your body. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium in a day. (More: How to give up sugar in 11 easy steps)
Now that you know what to cut off the menu, here are some heart friendly foods that you should sneak in your diet -
Oats contain a type of fiber, which helps to bind bile acids and remove them from the body. These acids are made from cholesterol, thus oats aid in lowering the cholesterol levels in our body. Oats are also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. (More: Eat oats for a healthy heart)
Trade your mid-meal snacks with a packet of assorted nuts. Once touted as high fat devils, today nuts are considered to be the super foods in promoting heart health. All nuts have high amounts of unsaturated fats, which is good for the heart as it helps in reducing the inflammation in the arteries. A handful of nuts every day, would help keep heart problems at bay! (More: Eating nuts is tied to lower risk of death)
Berries are the new power foods. Packed with anti-oxidants, they help to significantly reduce the blood pressure and boost the good HDL cholesterol levels, hence promoting a healthy heart. They are rich sources of powerful photo-chemicals that help in a having a better blood flow and fighting serious ailments.
Eating legumes regularly is extremely heart healthy. The best ones are kidney beans, black beans and lentils. They are rich in soluble fibers that help to bind the cholesterol. They are also rich in various nutrients like iron, calcium and protein thus help in maintaining a healthy heart. Like berries they also help in increasing the platelet activity.
Salmon is a cold-water fish, with abundant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are great to promote a healthy heart. It is very versatile and easy to cook too. No other common fish has such great amounts of omega 3 as salmon. A rich source of easily digestible protein, salmon aides in strengthening the heart muscles.
Let's pledge to care for our health a little more. Have a heart!
Related Links -
The easiest way to a healthy heart
How to manage your cholesterol
Why dark chocolate is good for you
Eat strawberries to get rid of bad cholesterol
To control cholesterol, turn to pistachios
The myths and facts about heart health
Skipping breakfast increases heart attack risk