Heart diseases are no more a thing for old people. Today people from almost every age group are dealing with heart problems. The emergence and tremendous growth of heart diseases and the increased rate of deaths associated with it are the evidence of disturbed modern lifestyle and diet.
There are several risk factors which can cause heart diseases but the good part is certain risks can be changed and heart problems can be prevented.
Heart diseases are also result of smoking and obesity. Avoiding smoking and having a proper diet and exercise for bodyweight can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Risk factors which cannot be changed are associated with age, gender, ethnic background, and family history and there are several other risk factors that can be changed.
High cholesterol: High cholesterol narrows or blocks arteries which can prevent blood to reach the heart, brain or other organs. This can cause cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and strokes.
High blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) increases the pressure of blood through arteries which may cause coronary artery disease; enlarge the left heart, and heart failure.
Diabetes: The problem of diabetes is increasing at a high rate and so as the levels of heart diseases. High blood glucose from diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves which control the heart and can lead to a heart attack.
Stress: Stress increases cholesterol, physical inactivity which leads to heart diseases. Some may also choose to smoke cigarettes or have alcohol to manage chronic stress which increases blood pressure.
Foods to prevent heart disease
1. Tomatoes: Lycopene, an antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Tomatoes have potassium that helps in lowering blood pressure by taking some of the sodium out of the body, and by relaxing the walls of the blood vessels.
2. Walnuts: Walnuts reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Walnuts lower risk of heart diseases in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Walnuts are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids which improve cognitive function and prevent obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.
3. Spinach: Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other nutrients in spinach work together in order to prevent oxidized cholesterol building in blood vessels walls. Spinach also has Folate, Vitamin B6, and betaine which lower the serum levels of amino acid homocysteine. Homocysteine is associated with heart diseases, stroke, and age-related cognitive decline.
4. Oats: oats has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant phytonutrients which prevents atherosclerotic build-up and maintains arterial function. Oats also lowers blood cholesterol levels so that less cholesterol struck in arteries which leads to an easy flow of blood and reduces the risk of heart disease
5. Strawberry: Strawberry lowers the levels of total and LDL level of cholesterol which is also called “bad” cholesterol. They are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanin which prevents oxidative stress and inflammation that contributes to the development of heart disease.
6. Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges, lime, tangerine and grapefruits are excellent to reduce ischemic load on the heart, thereby preventing from blockages and plaque build-up.
7. Lentils: Pulses, legumes, and beans are high in protein, and a high protein diet has been linked with at least a twenty percent reduction in the occurrence of heart diseases, if consumed regularly.
8. Avocados: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which is a type of healthy “good fats”. Adding an avocado in your daily diet can effectively reduce cholesterol according to many scientific studies.
9. Almonds: Almonds are one of the most nutrient dense nuts of all. They are loaded with the goodness of heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber. Eating almonds on a regular basis is said to have a powerful effect on lowering of blood cholesterol.
10. Pomegranate: Regular consumption of pomegranate is well known to prevent damage to the arterial walls. It improves the blood flow to the heart, and helps in lowering of blood pressure. Pomegranate can effectively prevent or reverse atherosclerosis.
Heart diseases are also result of smoking and obesity. Avoiding smoking and having a proper diet along with regular physical activity can effectively reduce the risk of heart attacks. A healthy lifestyle is a key to stay away from cardiovascular problems and reduces risks of heart diseases to a large extent.
(Nmami Agarwal is a celebrity nutritionist)
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