With another World Heart Day behind us, here are some tips on the kind of food that keeps your heart going.
There has been a sharp rise in the incidence of coronary heart disease in India. The most alarming trend is that young people are the victims. A decade ago, heart patients in the 25-35 age group were less than 10 per cent of the total figure. Now, they comprise about 40 per cent. And the number of deaths due to heart failure is increasing in the late 20s age-group.
This is because most people are under tremendous stress, meeting deadlines at work leading to skipping meals, binging on fast foods without considering their nutritive value. As eating habits and lifestyles change dramatically, youngsters are more inclined towards fast foods, smoking, consuming alcohol ... all crucial factors in causing heart problem at a very young age.
Consumption of fat increases the level of cholesterol in the blood. This causes a build up of plaques in the arteries leading to cardiovascular problems like atherosclerosis and eventually heart attacks leading to death.
The triad of unhealthy lifestyle choices, lack of physical activity and stress forms the major factors for the rise of cardiovascular disease. Other factors include smoking, consuming pan masala and drinking alcohol. But all this can be prevented with some simple changes.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle and develop a positive attitude towards life.
Know which food items protect your heart and keep you going.
Include food like oats in your diet, as it contains beta-glucan soluble fibre that reduces the risk of heart diseases and helps regulate blood pressure
Use oils like rice bran oil, soy oil and olive oil, which do not contain trans fat and do not increase cholesterol levels
Eat lots of green leafy vegetables like fresh spinach contains folate
Include fruits like apple and orange, which contain phytochemicals that help prevent blood clots, in your diet
Almonds, walnuts and fish are rich in omega-3-fatty acids that keep your cholesterol level in check
Opt for low-fat protein sources such as skimmed milk rather than whole milk and legumes like beans, peas and lentil.
Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. They contain substances that help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Cut down salt intake.
Do not smoke or consume tobacco
Check blood pressure regularly
Get tested for diabetes
Keep your weight under control
Manage your stress levels
The writer is a nutritionist, Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi.