We have all heard the adage ‘you are what you eat’ but we seldom pay heed to it, especially when we are young. It may stem from lack of knowledge about importance of diet, or well, the lack of know-how about the impact of poor diet on our health.
Our dietary choices dictate the fate of almost all our organs, but especially the heart and vascular system. What we eat has implications for not just the performance of the heart, but also, how well the blood is supplied around the body.
Having effective blood supply is absolutely imperative for the body to perform optimally, as the blood carries the vital nutrients as well as oxygen. It also plays an important role in removal of waste product. Lack of timely and adequate blood supply also leads to serious conditions like heart attack and stroke.
Therefore, it is vital that we pay heed to our diet to ensure that our cardiovascular system keeps working properly, since a proper diet helps in preventing heart disease. However, those already suffering from heart disease should consult and follow the guidelines of their General Physician or cardiologist alongside making safe dietary choices.
Dietary principles for a healthy heart
In order to lower your risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, you must adhere to the important dietary guidelines. These include:
Saturated and trans fats may taste good but are extremely bad for your heart. The bad cholesterol therein leads to the formation of plaques, that then clogs the arteries, causing impaired blood flow. Heart also then has to work harder to pump blood around the body then.
Moreover, plaque also contributes towards clot formation, that can cut off blood flow around the body. When this occurs in the brain, it is known as stroke, which can be debilitating and even fatal in its impact.
Hence, be careful about your choice of fat. Use healthy fats from fatty fish, nuts, olive oil etc. Cut back on butter and shortening. Use as little of oil as possible when cooking and also eliminate fried and oily food.
Load up on fruits and vegetables
Another way to improve your heart health is by focusing more on fruits and vegetables. These are not only excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, that keep your body running well, but they also contain substances that prevent heart disease.
Similarly, fruits and vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, which helps in promoting satiety and thus, prevents overeating. Offering nutrients without many calories, fruits and vegetables should comprise a large part of your diet.
Exhibiting control is not easy, but you must exercise portion control, even if you cannot resist your favorite food.
Often, we end up eating more than required by the body, which then manifests in the form of weight gain. People who are overweight or obese tax their heart, which then becomes susceptible to heart disease.
One way to exercise portion control is by using a smaller plate or a bowl, so that the food carrying capacity is limited to begin with. Refrain from second helpings. Make sure that the portions on your plate, hailing from different food groups, are representative of your need. For example, adding too much of fatty food and little lean protein, even if you are limited your portion size overall, is still dangerous for your heart.
Salt is also not good for your heart, as it can cause high blood pressure. This causes the heart to work harder, and damages the arteries. Hypertension leads to a hoard of not just cardiovascular issues, but also damages other organs like eyes in the process.
Hypertension does not always present symptoms and may be diagnosed too late. Alongside regular checkups from the Best General Physician in Islamabad, you should moderate your salt intake.