A healthy body is a foremost requirement for a good life and the heart is where the focus should be. Because of changing lifestyles and physical inactivity, people from all over the world are now more prone to heart disease and disorders than they were before. The increasing amount of fast foods and fatty diet consumed by people too is responsible for the deterioration of cardiac health. In this scenario, the least one can do to help the heart keep us is make slight shifts in daily diet in the form of these 10 super foods that are super healthy for the heart.
Superfoods For A Healthy Heart
A commonly available alternative to fattier red meats, fish is a more healthy option because of the high amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. This means that fish meat has good cholesterol and helps reduce bad cholesterol that is responsible for most heart problems. How the fish is cooked too determines its nutritional value. It is always preferable to steam or grill the fish rather than fry it because consumption of too much oil can neutralise the positive effects of the fish.
Like fish, seeds too have high concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce heart disease. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds are some of the healthiest seeds and it is recommended that two tablespoons of mixed seeds should be eaten every day to keep a healthy heart and pumping. It is always a good idea to keep a box of seeds with you and munch on some throughout the day. Alternatively, they can also be powdered and mixed with flour.
Nuts are similar to seeds because they lower the levels of low-density lipoproteins in the body and help control this bad cholesterol. Walnuts and almonds are the healthiest nuts and the recommended portions vary according to individual body-mass index, but on an average, five whole walnuts and five almonds every day ensure a healthy supply of nutrients. Walnuts are also one of the healthy foods in the world.
Spices are one of the main ingredients of Indian food and it has now been proved that some spices are indeed super foods that help prevent heart disease. Cumin (jeera) is commonly used in almost all preparations and is known to contain essential fatty acids, polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds help to keep a check on the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, which if accumulated in excess may cause heart disease. Coriander and coriander seeds both contain acids that increase the levels of high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterols) and help in maintaining a healthy heart.
This common and unremarkable looking food is actually miraculous as proved my modern research. A compound called Allicin along with other chemicals and antioxidants found in garlic have the ability to control blood pressure and reduce blood cholesterol levels. It is advisable to eat garlic raw and freshly crushed as raw garlic releases a small quantity of Hydrogen Sulphide gas that protects the heart. When cooked, the efficiency of the chemicals present in garlic reduced and the nutritional value too goes down. The ideal portion is two cloves of garlic per day.
Green leafy vegetables are well known for their importance as sources of fibre and iron but spinach also helps in maintaining a healthy heart. Spinach contains minerals like potassium and magnesium that are essential for controlling blood pressure and reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease. Spinach is best when eaten raw or slightly cooked. Cooking it too much may reduce its nutritive value by denaturing the important contents. Approximately one cup of this vegetable in the form of soup or mixed with other foods is ideal. Spinach is also one of the leafy vegetables that are good for healthy eyes.
Oats are one of the favourites with health aficionados for many reasons. Firstly, they have many beneficial contents like soluble fibres, Omega 3 fatty acids and potassium that help in reducing bad cholesterol and keeping heart disease in check. The other reason is that because of its neutral taste, it can be easily mixed with other foods or can be cooked according to individual preferences while training the nutritive value of the food. However, more recent studies show that uncooked oats are more effective in controlling heart disease than cooked oats. About 30 grams of uncooked oats per day is the recommended serving. They can also be mixed with fruits to make it a tasty and healthy breakfast.
A regular item in any household, curd is a super food like no other. Curd is a diet in itself as it is a source of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, proteins and healthy fats combined in one cup. This helps to control the level of low-density lipoproteins and thus maintain a healthy heart. Curd is also an excellent probiotic i.e. it contains helpful bacteria that enrich the stomach flora and help in better digestion and absorption of food. Curd is also a versatile food that can be prepared in a number of tasty and innovative ways. Smoothies, lassy, milkshake are just some of the ways to make this healthy food a tasty treat.
For the vegans who are health-conscious but don’t want to compromise, soy is the perfect option. It is a good substitute for milk and other animal proteins and also contains a substantial amount of fibre. The nutritive value is at its best when soy is eaten uncooked or slightly cooked thus preventing the denaturation of proteins. In fact, soy has a lower content of saturated fats, harmful to the heart, than conventional sources of protein like milk and cheese. The ideal serving is a quarter cup of chunks or 50 grams of beans.
10. Green Tea
Green tea is the new super foods preferred by people all over the world. It was first used primarily as a weight loss food because of the low calories and the feeling of fullness it gives after drinking a small quantity. It also has catechins that are antioxidants and help to unclog arteries that have accumulated fats. Additionally, it is also known to increase body metabolism and help in maintaining overall health. 2 cups per day of green tea is the recommended serving to keep a healthy heart.
So when do you plan to make a change in your diet? Before making any drastic changes in the quantity or type of food, it is best to consult a dietician or a nutritionist to get proper knowledge of any other changes that may need to be made to accompany the diet. Just diet without exercise is however hardly effective and these super foods need to be eaten along with a regular exercise schedule.