Friday, August 19th, 2022 13:45:04

Healthy Diet for a Healthy Heart What You Should Know!

Updated: October 5, 2017 3:31 pm

Your heart powers your whole body. It lets you love, laugh and live your life to the full. A huge percentage of common public in the society is suffering from the heart diseases like stroke, heart attack, heart failure, etc. Heart problems are the leading causes of death in the world. The heart related problems and deaths could be solved by the active involvement of the common public and by preventive approach rather than treatment related approach as rightly said –“prevention is better than cure”. Overeating, lack of exercise, unhealthy diets and high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels are all factors, which can trigger heart disease and threaten our own lives, and those of loved ones. The aim is to improve health globally by encouraging people to make lifestyle changes and promoting education internationally about ways to be good to your heart. This lesson is becoming increasingly relevant as reports of obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity in children and young people become more and more common.

Why we should be worried of heart problem?

In India, approximately 17.5 million people die each year due to heart related diseases, which is 31% of the total deaths worldwide. 80% of these deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes. Out of 40 million heart patients in India 19 million reside in urban areas and 21 million in rural areas. This implies that heart diseases are fast becoming an epidemic in rural India too and not confined to the wealthy or peaople leaving in cities only. Diet has a great implication in the devlopment of heart ailments both for prevention and treatment.

What are the various risk factors for heart problem?

There are many risk factors for heart diseases. Some were not modifiable like age (i.e. increasing age and increasing problems), gender (male have a higher risk than female), familial(if anyone in your family had a heart problem). But certainly we can modify the other rsik facors like our diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol intake. Definitely these were the important one which we should handle carefully and need to be tackled from an earlier age for a sturdy heart.

There are two main aspects of a healthy heart though a healthy lifestyle viz. diet and physical activity. Faulty diet along with a sedentary lifestyle mainly owing to urbanization, easy accessibility, affordability and technological growth are the main causes of increase in risk factors for heart diseases.

What is the role of a diet in heart disease?

Diet is an important risk factor in heart diseases. Food related risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and a diet high in saturated fats. A healthy diet is a major factor in reducing your risk of heart disease. Just a few small changes- eating a low- saturated fat, low salt, low sugar, more high-fiber, high plant food diet can have a major impact on diet your risk for heart problems.

Should I do regular exercise in addition to a healthy diet in heart disease prevention?

Second important aspect is physical activity or exercise. The benefits of exercise are boundless. Cardiovascular exercise will help burn calories and get rid of excess fat, reducing the risk of cholesterol blockages in the arteries and preventing heart disease. Just 150 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise a week will help improve your cholesterol levels. Cycling, brisk walking, swimming and yoga – these physical activities helps to strengthen our body, can burn a lot of calories without exerting the heart. Hobbies like playing badminton, tennis, cricket and other outdoor games need to be inculcated from childhood as a regular routine activity which can help to have healthy heart all through life.

What should be the Goal of my diet?

The diet should address your there main things i.e. good control of i) blood cholesterol level ii) blood pressure and a maintained body weight.

Can I get a comprehensive diet plan for a heart disease patient?

The diet plan should include an energy of 25kcal/kg for normal person, for under weight-30-35kcal/kg and for over weight 20-22kcal/Kg.

It should be of low fat, low cholesterol, low in refined sugar or simple sugar, high in fibre, adequate protein, low salt and controlled water (as per doctor’s advice).

Good Cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein-HDL) raising foods like- Onion, garlic, green tea, fenugreek, avocados, fish (rich in omega 3), oats, soya products, flaxseed, pomegranate seeds. Bad

Cholesterol (Triglyceride and Low Density Lipoprotein-LDL) lowering foods particularly those low in simple sugar like sub drinks, cakes, cookies, white bread, white rice, jam, jelly, custard, cornflakes, sweets, cream and butter biscuit, ice cream and alcohol should be added to your menu.

What are the good carbohydrates for my heart?

  • Good carbohydrate     

Complex carbohydrate is good for a Cardiac patient, because it combined with fibre like brown bread, wheat products like Dalia, oats, Ragi, red rice etc.

  • Bad carbohydrate

Simple carbohydrate is not good for Cardiac patient. For example sugar, potato, jam, maida, Cornflour, fruit juice and cold drinks etc..

Per day 55-60%of carbohydrates requirement in total energy. It based on complex carbohydrate food. Because it is also given some amount of fibre.

What should I take for Protein in my diet?

  • Good Protein     

All plant type protein is good for CARDIAC patient for example, dal and dal products, soya products; it gives protein, No fat.

  • Bad Protein

Animal protein gives also fat like whole milk and milk products, whole egg, prawn, crab, red meat, chicken, fish etc..

So that egg white, small fish less that 1kg fish , lean chicken, skimmed milk is less amount is prescribe for heart patient .

As per your Ideal body weight, you should take 1gm Protein / kg body weight/ day.

Fat is bad as per my knowledge, but which fat I can consume?

  • Good fat

Saturated fat is good for heart but a limited quantity we used in our daily diet.

Olive oil, mustard oil,soyabin oil,rice brown oil, sunfflow oil, sunflower oil, seasame oil etc…

  • Bad fat

Unsaturated fat is not good for heart disease because it is high in cholesterol, like palm oil, ghee, butter, dalda, coconut oil, banaspati oil etc…

It is recommended a total of fat use of 500ml/person per month or 15ml/day.

I know fibre is good for heart–can you suggest any thing on this to me.

A high fibre diet is effective in prevention and treatment of many types of heart diseases. Water-soluble fibres such as oat, bran are particular benefit in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. For example, sprouts, unpolished dal and cereals (like red rice, red Chuda (Poha), wheat, oats etc), all green vegetables, leafy vegetables, negative and low calories fruits (guava, Apple, orange, papaya, mausumi, pomegranates etc.) flaxseed and soybean.

What about salt intake and Sodium in my diet?

Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure and risk factor for heart disease. Healthy adults have no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. AVOID SALTY FOOD. Particularly intake extra salt, chips, bhujia, mixture, pickles, papad, popcorn and other salted snacks, butter, cheese, China salt and all type of preservative food like tomato and chilly sauce.

So for a healthy heart a healthy lifestyle should begin in childhood which needs to be practised throughout life. Most people think heart-healthy living involves sacrifice. Give up your favourite foods. Break a sweat. But some of the best things you can do for your heart do not involve deprivation or medication. Simple and even pleasurable changes in the foods you eat can rival medication in terms of the benefit to your heart. That’s why it’s so important to look after it. If you don’t, you’re putting yourself at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But the good news is that making just a few simple daily changes, like eating and drinking more healthily, getting more exercise and stopping smoking, can prevent much CVD. So let’s make sure we all take action to keep our hearts charged and make a lasting difference to our health.

Fuel your heart. Move your heart. Love your heart. And share the power.

(Dr Varsha Shasthry (MBBS, PDCC, PhD- Clinical Nutrition) works at the Institute of Liver and biliary Sciences, New Delhi. Laxmipriya Sahoo (PGDNM, MSc Dietetics and Nutrition) works as Dietician at Apollo Hospital, Bhubaneswar.)


By  Dr Varsha Shasthry and Laxmipriya Sahoo


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