Heart disease affects a substantial portion of the population nowadays. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle are two key causes of these rising numbers. Individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease may have elevated blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels, as well as being overweight or obese, according to the WHO. All of these may be easily assessed in primary care settings. Identifying individuals at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and ensuring they receive proper therapy can save lives. Heart patients are also encouraged to keep a close eye on their food and lifestyle to avoid extra danger. However, many people do not understand what to do and what not to do when they have heart disease.
One of the key reasons for the spike in the number of heart diseases is the role of how culture and mindset have allowed Indians to emulate the western food culture and work culture, but not so much as the fitness and habit of exercise. For example, the extravagant consumption of prepacked and ready to eat foods, rise in adulteration practices, lack of stringent policies to curb the dropping quality of foods and the increasing number of those who choose to eat outside foods regularly. These and many more eventually contribute to a cumulative rise in how the heart functions and the imbalance is what causes the various cardiovascular issues to become a reality.
Let us look at some of the common myths relates to cardiovascular diseases and their relation to certain foods.
- Having high blood pressure during old age
Cholesterol is generally blamed for high cholesterol. However, one can eat everything if they are on cholesterol-lowering medicines. This is because cholesterol is controlled by medicines and consuming healthy foods will help the recovery and maintenance of a healthy heart. However, care should be taken to not overdo as the situation can worsen if proper precautions are not taken into consideration.
- Only older people have to worry about heart attacks
This notion is purely based on incorrect observations as heart attack is a man’s disease. There are other lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure that are caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. Cholesterol on the other hand will not affect the heart. Although surgery or medications could help maintain the condition, they can help to enhance the overall health of life, but if the underlying problem is not addressed in time, it may even worsen than before.
- Fats are bad for the Heart
We essentially require fat in our diet for a variety of reasons, including a healthy immune system and efficient brain function. The kind of fat we consume in our diet is more significant than the quantity of overall fat. Dietary lipids are not all processed in the same way by the body. Saturated fats, which may be found in processed meat, milk products, coconut milk, and palm oil, as well as meals produced from these, such as cakes, cookies, and desserts, raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the bloodstream. As a result, the incidence of cardiac illnesses such as heart problems, stroke, and vascular dementia rises.
- Chocolates are good for the heart
Chocolates are made from cocoa seeds that are full of antioxidants, and there is some evidence that eating a lot of these antioxidants is good for the heart. Most of the antioxidant content is removed during processing and very little remains in the chocolate we eat. Chocolate is high in sugar and fat making it very calorific and far from being a healthy option. There is some evidence that consuming high levels of these antioxidants are linked to heart health. Dark chocolate has the highest antioxidant content and the least amount of sugar, while milk chocolate has fewer antioxidants but double the sugar. White chocolate has no cocoa solids and hence no antioxidant benefit, making it less suitable for snacking on as part of a daily snacking regime for heart patients.
- Butter is better than oil
Butter is widely used in cuisine all around the world. It’s quite versatile and may be used in sautéing, frying, greasing, baking, and sauces. Because butter is made by churning cream and separating the buttermilk, it is particularly rich in total fat and saturated fat (approximately 82 % and 52 % respectively). One teaspoon of butter contains 4.7g saturated fat, which is a significant percentage of the maximum daily amount advised for women (20g) and men (30g). It’s also high in calories, with one tablespoon having 110 Kcals.
- A little salt is not a problem
Normal salt in the diet is enough for most people, however, more salt sprinkled on meals and salad should be avoided for heart patients. Those suffering from high blood pressure or heart failure can decrease to 1500 mg per day. This aids in the regulation of blood pressure and fluid retention. Companies package and promote manufactured foods that are attractive and they also include a lot of salt and preservatives. So stay away from ready to eat lunch packs, salted peanuts, and potato wafers, and delectable ready-to-eat snacks.
A healthy diet for heart patients would be high in nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as olive oil. Excess butter, cheese, margarine, and fried fatty foods such as burgers, pizza, samosas, and vadas should be avoided at all costs. Instead, 5 simple almonds or walnuts and 3 to 5 cashews can increase good cholesterol while decreasing bad cholesterol. 5 unsalted pistachios are much beneficial to the functioning of the blood cells. Walnuts have a high-fat content, but the majority of this fat is heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Walnuts are one of the few natural sources of omega-3 fat, which is necessary for our diet for healthy heart and brain function. Nuts should be eaten as part of a healthy diet, according to experts. Consuming enough fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy heart can be supplemented by including tangy berries for a heart-healthy diet. For heart patients, maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy heart also requires frequent exercise.
(The views expressed in this article are by Palak Chaturvedi, Nutritionist & Lifestyle Consultant. Onlineandyou.com doesn’t own any responsibility for it.)