Simple swaps to keep your heart healthy


New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANSlife) Among the many benefits of maintaining heart health are the ability to live a long life, relieve symptoms of depression and reduce the risk of dementia. As a saying goes, “With a healthy heart, the beat goes on.” The path to a healthy heart is explained by Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, founder of You Care.

Tips to keep your heart healthy

.Emotional Health: Today, emotional health is a #1 priority for better heart health. Negative emotions and thoughts stimulate the flight and fight response which results in the production of cortisol. High cortisol levels are known to also elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammation, all of which can negatively affect heart health. Invest more time in healing yourself emotionally through yoga, pranayama, meditation, visualization, laughter, positive affirmations, etc.

Vitamin Breathing: A deep inhale and exhale is enough to calm your mind and heart. Deep breathing is known to shift our body from a fight and flight state to a rest and digest state almost instantly. This makes regular practice of deep breathing an extremely heart-healthy habit.

.Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant-Rich Foods: The main causes of heart attacks are not cholesterol, but inflammation and oxidative damage in the heart, blood vessels, endothelial lining, arteries, etc. Inflammation and oxidative damage are caused by free radicals in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and many lifestyle choices we make. Foods like turmeric, ginger, garlic, and black pepper are powerful foods to curb inflammation. Also, eat a variety of fruits and berries of different colors when in season.

.Prioritize sleep: Poor sleep or lack of sleep can harm our heart health. Indeed, when we sleep, the heart takes a break and works less. The heart is a muscle and it needs recovery. Lack of sleep also increases insulin resistance, blood pressure and inflammation.

.Stay active: Excessive sitting is like smoking. Make sure to be physically active throughout the day. The risks of heart attacks are more in people who live inactive lifestyles. Walking, yoga, Zumba and trekking are extremely beneficial exercises for the heart.

.Avoid smoking: active and passive smoking is toxic to the heart. Smoking contributes to both oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. The chemicals emitted by cigarettes cause plaque to build up in the arteries. It also depletes several vitamins and minerals and hardens the arteries.

.Get more raw foods in your diet for fiber and antioxidants.

10 foods that will help your heart stay young and healthy

.Good Quality Oils: Like Coconut Oil, Pure A2 Gir Cow Ghee and Mustard Oil help boost good cholesterol and fight inflammation.

.Foods Rich in Omega 3: Omega 3 fatty acid is an important and extremely heart-healthy fatty acid. It helps curb inflammation, heals arterial walls, and boosts HDL while lowering LDL. For example: oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds, to name a few.

.Beetroot: for its ability to act as a vasodilator and its high antioxidant content.

.Garlic: for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bad cholesterol properties. It also acts as a natural blood thinner.

.Organic tea (black, white, oolong, matcha): for its high antioxidant content, especially EGCG. Plus, research now shows it has powerful cholesterol-lowering properties and can prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.

.Fruits like grapes, pomegranate and berries: for their high antioxidant content.

.Foods rich in vitamin E: for their ability to curb inflammation, fight free radicals, repair cells and heal arteries. It is a must for people exposed to cigarettes and industrial pollution. Ex: sunflower seeds, unsalted peanuts, avocados, almonds and sesame.

.Magnesium-rich foods: for their ability to improve heart muscle health and blood pressure. For example: all nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, cocoa.

.Potassium-rich foods: play a role in every heartbeat. It manages blood pressure and heart muscle contractions and keeps the heart rate stable. Ex: banana, avocado, pumpkin.

.Foods rich in vitamin K: for high antioxidant properties and preventing calcification of the arteries. For example: green leafy vegetables, broccoli, prunes, avocado.

Foods to Avoid

.Refined sugar and refined carbohydrate intake: Both can contribute to inflammation, raise blood sugar and thus increase the risk of heart attack. Additionally, an excess of both could lead to high triglyceride levels. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates like dosas, idlis, rotis, hand-pounded rice, etc. are all healthy carbs and can be included in your diet for good health and preventing the risk of heart attack. People who forgo these complex carbs end up lacking in vitamin K2, which can lead to calcification of the arteries.

.Refined salt: Refined salt and MSG can create inflammation in the body, elevate blood pressure and cause fluid retention, which burdens the kidneys. One can opt for pink or Himalayan rock salt after keeping their healthcare professional informed.

.Refined oils: Refined vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega 6s are harmful to health because they cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

.Processed and Packaged Foods: Processed and packaged foods also cause increased rates of heart attacks and strokes. This is again because these packaged and processed foods are made with low quality refined oil which increases oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.

.Excess tea and coffee, alcohol: overconsumption of tea and coffee can aggravate or cause acidity and inflammation, especially if the drink contains sugar, cream and other additives . Alcohol can also raise bad cholesterol, cause inflammation and raise blood pressure.

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