Ways to keep your Heart healthy
You might not emphasize much on the fact that your heart is working every second, every now and then. Your heart pumps oxygen and blood to all of your body parts and hence becomes the most vital muscle in your body.
Anatomical features and functions of heart
Let’s know some anatomical facts about this muscle (heart). It’s fascinating that our heart’s size is the same as our fist, yet it pumps oxygen all throughout our body, becoming a primary part of our circulatory system. Our heart has 4 chambers, walls, valves which work as doors, blood vessels which serve as the plumbing system as we have in our houses. All 4 of these sections are made up of muscles and are provided with electrical impulses (electricity), and our nervous system and brain heads our heart by giving it instructions.
Apart from circulating blood throughout the body, the heart also maintains the speed and rhythm of your heart rate. It also manages your blood pressure. Our endocrine system releases hormones and these chemicals tell our blood vessels to dilate or constrict, which impacts the pressure of the blood. The chemicals from our thyroid gland can also cause our heart to beat slower or faster.
Cholesterol and its related myths
When you don’t care for your heart enough, then you might have to face serious problems in the arteries ultimately leading to the formation of plaque, which is something that causes heart attacks and blocks the flow of blood in the arteries. In order to prevent and manage various other heart ailments one must Understand the situations that cause an impact on your heart, and then plan to take needed actions.
We usually think that all cholesterol is harmful for our body and ignores the fact that our body needs some of it to work properly. It is a waxy substance that our body produces and we also get it from food. Cholesterol allows our body to make some hormones and vitamin D, and help in digesting the food as well. But you may find it astonishing that there are two types of cholesterol, categorized as High-density lipoprotein (good) and low-density lipoprotein (bad). The bad cholesterol causes our arteries to get clogged on the other hand, good cholesterol helps in removing the plaque, and protects our heart.
Heart Health Tips
Certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your heart and cholesterol and prevent you from the unfortunate.
You can be on your way to a healthier heart life, by knowing what to avoid and what to eat. You may know that some food items can actually increase your chances of contracting with a heart disease, and making changes in your routine eating habits can be a bit challenging, so here you are provided with some tips about your heart healthy diet:
Knowing your appropriate portion size is important: eating in the correct portion is as necessary as eating the correct food, the amount of food you get served in the restaurants is usually more than what you actually need. Eating until you feel completely full, will increase your calorie intake. To keep a watch on your portion size you can use a small bowl to measure your portion, eat a low calorie food such as fruits, wheat, vegetables, eat a nutrient rich meal. Restrict yourself from eating high sodium food and calorie rich food such as fried and processed food.
You can also keep a check on the number of servings you have.
You should eat more fruits and vegetables: fruits and vegetables are low calorie foods and are rich in dietary fibres, vitamins and minerals, of course. Like any other plant based food, fruits and vegetables contain certain substances that can prove to be beneficial for your heart. And eating vegetables and fruits will prevent you from eating meat, snack foods and cheese, which are high in calories.
Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet is no big deal, you can just cut and keep vegetables in the fridge to have a simple, healthy yet quick snack. You can keep fruits in front of you in the kitchen so that you do not forget to eat them. You can also decide on some recipes that have more vegetables and fruits content. You can choose frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables, canned fruits packed in water or juice, and low sodium canned vegetables.
And you should limit certain fruits and vegetables such as fried and breaded vegetables, canned fruit packed in heavy syrup, coconut, creamy sauce vegetables, frozen fruit with added sugar, etc.
Choose whole grain: they are a great source of nutrients and fibers that are crucial to regulate your heart health and blood pressure. You can simply choose whole grain over refined grains, to make your diet heart healthy, and you may try some new whole grains as well such as barley, and quinoa.
You should restrict yourself from having Muffins, Frozen waffles, Cornbread, Doughnuts, Biscuits, Quick breads, Cakes, Pies, Egg noodle, Buttered popcorn, High-fat snack crackers, White, refined flour and White bread.
You may choose to eat Whole-grain pasta, Oatmeal, High-fiber cereal with 5 g or more fiber in a serving, Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat, Whole-wheat flour and Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread.
Restrict unhealthy fats: to reduce the risk of CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) and to maintain your cholesterol, you should restrain yourself from eating saturated and trans fat. A high cholesterol level in your blood can lead to Atherosclerosis, a condition in which your arteries get blocked due to the formation of plaque, hereby increasing your chances of stroke or heart attack.
You may include the following fats in your diet: Vegetable and nut oils, Margarine, trans fat free, Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance, Nuts, seeds, Avocados, Olive oil and Canola oil.
And you must avoid the following Gravy, Cream sauce, Non Dairy creamers, Hydrogenated margarine and shortening, Cocoa butter, found in chocolate, Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm kernel oils, Butter, Lard, and Bacon fat.
Opt for low-protein sources of food: low-fat dairy products, poultry, Lean meat, fish, and eggs are considered as great sources of protein. You should choose skinless chicken breasts for low fat options instead of fried chicken patties, and should choose skim milk instead of whole milk. Fish can prove to be a great source of high fat meats. There are some fish enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglycerides (blood fats). You might find the highest amount of omega 3 fatty acids in salmon, herring, and mackerel, as these are cold water fish. Other vegetarian choices can be walnuts, canola oil, flax seeds and soybean.
Lentils, beans and peas are all good sources of low fat proteins, and have zero cholesterol, making them an alternative for meat. If you are choosing proteins from plants over proteins from animals, for example choosing a bean burger over a hamburger, this will increase your fiber intake and will reduce your cholesterol and fat consumption.
You must avoid the following proteins: Fatty and marbled meats, Spareribs, Hot dogs and sausages, Bacon, Fried or breaded meats, Full-fat milk and other dairy products and Organ meats, such as liver.
Reduce the salt content in your meal: constricting the amount of salt in your meal is very necessary for a heart healthy diet, as having too much salt will elevate your blood pressure. It is recommended that usually a healthy adult should not have more than 2300mg of salt in a day that is equivalent to a teaspoon. You can start reducing the amount of salt while cooking your meal, but the maximum amount of salt is from processed and frozen food that you have like baked goods, frozen food, and soups. Preparing your own meal everyday can help you reduce the amount of salt you consume.
The low salt items that you can choose are Canned soups or prepared meals with no added salt or reduced salt, Reduced-salt versions of condiments, such as reduced-salt soy sauce and reduced-salt ketchup, Herbs and spices, and Salt-free seasoning blends.
You must avoid Tomato juice, Condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise and soy sauce, Restaurant meals, Table salt and Canned soups and prepared foods, such as frozen dinners.
By now you must know what all to eat and what all to avoid, now it’s time that you mould your eating habits accordingly. Try planning your meal on the basis of the tips provided above, by incorporating more vegetables and fruits, choosing whole grains and lean proteins, and restricting salt and unhealthy fats. Put more emphasis on each of your snacks and meals. Keep a check on your portion size and allow yourself to have variety in your diet. For example, if you are going to have a bean burger one evening, then you might have grilled salmon the other night. This way you can ensure that your body is getting every nutrient it needs. It will also make your heart healthy diet more interesting.
You can also allow yourself to cheat sometimes, by eating some potato chips, or a candy bar you are not going to ruin your diet, but make sure you cheat occasionally that is once a week. Because to make your heart better and healthy and to prevent it from various heart diseases it is necessary that you eat healthy at least most of the time.