Keep your heart healthy always
By Dr Ramamurthy Bingi
03rd October 2012 10:29 AM
Heart diseases are on the rise all over the world and can strike one at a relatively younger age than a couple of decades earlier. Much can be done by one to maintain good heart health. Diet is an important component of man’s life for his survival and existence. Apart from its social and religious implications, it has major impact on health and disease, particularly heart diseases.
Diet advice should be such that it can be easily modified and adhered to long-term. Good habits should become a family affair so that children will be most benefited. Hence, primary physician has a major role and in some cases dietitian advice is necessary.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin c and carotenoid. They add bulk to food and reduce calories. Any fruit eaten preferably raw with at least three or more servings per day is desirable. Local and seasonal variability should be kept in mind as well as easily available fruits like papya, orange, apple. At least five vegetables, roots in combination with fruits are recommended.
Garlic contains special ingredients and reduces triglycerides. Whole grains and fibre: Whole grains have high fibre and complex carbohydrates. They have low glycaemic effect and contribute other micro nutrients.
Legumes: Increased use of peas, beans an d lentils are recommended.
Soyabean in any form is recommended as they reduce cholesterol and provide isoflavanoids which have beneficial effect on blood vessels.
Nuts: Nuts in general have more monosaturated fatty acids. Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Almonds have been shown to reduce lipoprotiens. Nuts in sufficient quantity, 2 to 3 times a week is recommended.
Vitamins and minerals Elevated homocystiene levels are associated with cardiovascular risk. Folic acid, pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin rich diets reduce the levels.
Some authorities recommend fortification of cereal grain flour by vitamins. Recently higher prevalence of Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies are seen in our population with multiple adverse effects. Correcting them with proper diet is important.
Moreover vitamins are supposed to act as antioxidants and help in curbing oxidant related ill effects. Food rich in calcium potassium and magnesium are supposed to reduce blood pressure. Roots, vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals.
Fat: Fat comes from cooking medium and also food. Ill-effects of fat are better understood in terms of cholesterol and fatty acids. Food cholesterol contributes little to the total blood cholesterol. Adverse effects are due to saturated and trans fatty acids.
Dairy foods, meat cooking oils are rich in trans fatty acids mono saturated fatty acids, olive and canola oils are rich in mono unsaturated fatty acids and sunflower and safflower are rich in poly unsaturated oils. Overall fat consumption should be less than 10 per cent and preferably 7 per cent in high risk cases.
Egg yolk is rich in cholesterol. Increased transfatty acids come from cooked oils, particularly repeatedly used and are the worst.
Fish and fish oils: Consuming fish at least once weekly reduces cardiovascular risk as well as sudden death. Two portions per week is recommended. Fish have high omega 3 fatty acids like eicosopentanoic acid and docosahaexanoic acid. They have multiple beneficial effects like antiplatelet and anti inflammatory actions. Salmon tuna are preferred.
Salt: Excess salt increases blood pressure. It is to avoided in heart failure. Over the shelf and preserved foods, pickles, papads and restaurant foods should be avoided. Recommended salt intake is about 4 to 6 gm per day or about 2400 to 2600 mg sodium per day.
Alcohol: Alcohol in moderation is recommended, about less than one drink per day for women and not more than one drink per day for men. Wines in any form, particularly red wine appears to be better. Alcohol in general, particularly among young should be discouraged due to it being habit forming.
Dark chocolates, moderate tea and plenty of water are equally good in the long term for heart health.
In summary, adequate balanced diet containing lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish with whole cereals should be consumed frequently and avoiding oily meals appears to be the best for preventing heart diseases.
Adequate balanced diet containing lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish are best for preventing heart diseases.
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