Eating for Heart Health: Tips for a Healthy Cardiovascular Diet

Heart problems are responsible for the death of thousands of men and women in India and abroad. People who are diagnosed with heart disease experience a range of emotional responses that range from anxiety and stress to fear, which affect their quality of life. Though regular exercise and weight control are critical for heart health, the food that you eat also plays a significant role.

A heart-healthy diet revolves around real or natural food and not around processed food and packaged meals. So, if you are looking for a diet that can keep your heart healthy, this article is for you.

1. Pick gut-friendly food

Our cardiovascular and digestive systems are closely linked to each other. Our gut contains one hundred trillion bacteria/microbes and many of them are good for the gut and help digest food and do several other essential functions. Studies suggest that an imbalance in the gut bacteria leads to issues such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes and lower HDL (good cholesterol). Probiotics contain friendly or good bacteria, which helps improve gut health. Many Indian foods that are rich in probiotics are panner, curd, lassi, buttermilk, idli and dosa. So, add these microorganism-rich dishes to your diet and keep your gut and heart healthy.

2. Add vitamin D sources

Many people do not know, but vitamin D influences the cholesterol levels in the body. And the best thing is that you can get it free from the sun. Exercise in the morning sun can help you gain the benefits of both your exercise and the sun. Adding milk, mushrooms, orange, orange juice and cheese to your diet can help you get the essential vitamin D. Ghee is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, E, K2, D, calcium and omega-3. But take ghee, cheese and milk in reasonable portions to ensure your overall health and well-being.

3. Incorporate complex carbohydrates

Our system digests complex carbohydrates slowly, so they gradually increase the glucose level in the body. They help maintain blood sugar levels in the body and improve our body’s insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of insulin resistance. And we all know insulin resistance leads to heart diseases such as high blood pressure, hardening of arteries, etc.

Complex carbohydrates are rich in fibre, which is good for heart health and lower cholesterol levels. Food such as peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables contains complex carbohydrates. Lavleen Kaur, a renowned dietitian in Chandigarh recommends consuming flours of multiple grains, such as ragi, jowar, and millets, one at a time.

What you should not eat?

Stay away from highly processed foods as they contain a large amount of unhealthy fat and excess sodium and contain additives and preservatives that lead to inflammation and many other issues. So, if you want to keep your heart healthy, avoid eating or reduce consuming the following things.

  • Biscuits/cookies
  • Cakes and pastries
  • Chips and chocolates
  • Soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks
  • Pizza, burger

Never overlook the impact of stress

No one can deny the benefits of an online diet plan, but one should also not underestimate stress when it comes to heart health. Constant stress leads to high levels of cortisol hormone, which can increase blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Even minor stress can lead to poor blood flow in the heart muscle, so one should find ways to reduce stress. It can be anything from moderate exercise and meditation to listening to your favourite songs and playing with your children. Engaging in some silly activities, such as having a goofy photoshoot or dancing with your kids, can melt away your stress and make you happy and your heart healthy.

The bottom line

Lastly, by incorporating foods that take care of gut health, providing sufficient vitamin D and other essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals and reducing your insulin resistance, you will support your heart health and your overall well-being. Also, exercise for at least 15-30 minutes a day; it will enhance your cardiovascular health by controlling your weight and reducing your stress.