September 29, 2013 7:15 PM EST
World Heart Day: 6 Foods for A Healthy Heart
A healthy heart is the foundation of a happy life.
Every year, heart-related diseases claim 17.3 million lives across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by the year 2030, nearly 23.3 million people are expected to die every year from cardiovascular diseases or disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure are included in the list.
The risky habits that modernisation has brought in are to be blamed. Addiction to tobacco, alcohol, obesity, unhealthy lifestyle and food habits contribute widely to this occurrence. Risk of cardiovascular disease is high among people suffering from high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. However, the good news is that all these risk factors are preventable or curable.
To spread awareness, the world has been observing 29 September each year as World Heart Day since the last 13 years.
Some of the factors that increase the risk of heart-related diseases include old age, gender (men), and family history.
Following are some tips to have a healthy heart:
- Avoid overeating
- Quit smoking
- Eat more fibre rich foods, like whole grains
- Avoid foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats
- Include more fresh vegetables and fruits into the diet
- Decrease sodium intake
- Engage in regular exercising
- Control and manage stress
World Heart Day
Today is World Heart Day
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that are considered to be healthy. These fats can also help control cholesterol and insulin levels. Studies have shown that olive oil help cut heart risks. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than 4 tablespoons of olive oil per day cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke and mortality. In another study, a team of researchers in Italy proved that three tablespoons of olive oil decreased the risk of heart disease by 40 percent.
They are rich in potassium, a mineral that is known to protect against high blood pressure and heart dieases. Apart from that, Vitamin B6, folate in tomatoes help to eliminate the health risk posed by homocysteine , a chemical linked to heart attack and stroke. Scientists from Tufts University in Boston, USA reported in February this year that the antioxidant in tomatoes, known as lycopene helped reduce risk of coronary heart disease by 26 per cent.
Apples are rich in fiber, which help regulate fat levels in the blood. Phytonutrients found in apples helps manage blood sugar. Antioxidants in apples are effective in lowering oxidation of cell membrane fats, thus reducing the risk of developing any heart related problems. A study presented by The Florida State University in Tallahassee at the Experimental Biology 2011, in Washington, D.C reported that regular consumption of apples reduced heart risks.
Cocoa beans used to make chocolate can work as a strong antioxidant and prevent cell damage. Flavanols help manage blood pressure, thus decreasing the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. A study published in British Medical Journal in May last year reported that regular consumption of dark chocolates helped people at high risk to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and metabolic syndrome.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are a rich source of fiber, folate, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, making it effective in protecting against cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure.
Blueberries are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. They are also rich in manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K. A study published in the journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation in January this year reported that a specific sub-class of flavonoids contained in strawberries and blueberries helped dilate arteries, prevented formation of plaque.