You thought eating a nutritious or so-called “healthy” diet will protect your heart and promote longevity. Well, this article will force you to think otherwise and help you choose the correct ingredients good for your heart. With a lot of surprising facts revealed, it will change the idea of a heart-healthy diet and result in new modifications to your meals.
Why is heart health vital?
Undoubtedly, heart is the powerhouse of the body as it circulates blood to and from the minute cells and tissues present in the body. It works round the clock silently without making us aware of
its continuous workload. For such steady, constant and untiring effort, the heart deserves to be treated with special care and attention and what better way will it be to do so than feeding it with heart friendly foods. It’s like a machine that requires constant source of energy for efficient and incessant functioning and adding undue pressure on the already busy heart by stress, unhealthy food habits or lack of exercise hampers its activity eventually, leading to disease. In spite of all the education regarding heart health including the diet, exercise regime and other lifestyle tips, the number of heart disease has been on the rise. Regardless of all the efforts to counter the same, the number seems uncontrollable and the reason for this inability lies in the misconceptions about heart-healthy foods. To give you an insight into the same, have a look at these surprisingly nutritious foods that can harm your heart.
Whenever dietary factors have contributed to poor heart, fats have always been held responsible for overloading the heart and blocking its arteries. In fact, recent researches in medical science proved otherwise and the most deadly nutrient has been found to be carbohydrate. Carbohydrates, mainly refined sugars and processed carbs like cornflakes, breads, cookies etc. are responsible for increasing blood sugar levels, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes as well as heart disease. As these carbohydrates belong to the high-glycemic group, they tend to cause undue stress on the arteries of the heart eventually, leading to heart disease. Moreover, high glycemic carbohydrates lead to obesity which worsens the arterial functioning further.
Various studies and surveys in this regard have shown that consuming foods high in sugar such as potatoes, white bread, french fries, cookies, cornflakes, sweetened soda etc causes sudden dysfunction of the endothelial walls of the arteries of the heart and are a major risk factor for causing coronary diseases and can lead to serious implications.
According to World Health Organization, every adult should limit their sugar intake to just six teaspoons a day to avoid obesity, heart disease and other serious illnesses. Substituting white bread with brown bread, soda or diet cokes to lemon water, cornflakes with oatmeal’s etc. are some of the healthy measures that can be easily accommodated in your daily diet. Not all carbohydrates are bad for the heart, many high fiber carbs like whole wheat, oats, fruits etc are found to promote healthy heart functioning.
Another deadly nutrient that has known to cause high blood pressure or the fatal congestive heart failure is sodium. It’s a well-known fact that the mineral sodium, most commonly found in salt, is detrimental for the normal functioning of the heart but what needs to be realized is that though sodium is essential in small quantity for maintaining proper blood pressure, due to its presence in almost all processed foods and bakery products, the overall sodium consumption tends to exceed the required amount causing additional strain on the heart resulting in heart attack. Sodium also, attracts and retains water in the blood causing excess fluid to build up and collect leading to congestive heart failure. Also, as sodium is filtered through the kidneys, excess sodium puts pressure on the kidneys affecting their functioning too. Hence, apart from common salt, limiting the intake of processed and baked foods is also recommended for a healthy heart.
As mentioned earlier, fats have been believed to increase heart disease risks and among all the fats, saturated fats have been termed “the bad fats” due to their suspected harmful effects on the heart. However, recent medical analysis has managed to bust this myth as the study revealed that the intake of saturated fats found in meats, whole fat dairy products as well as baked products had no effect on the heart whereas polyunsaturated fats like those found in fish, nuts etc. contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that promote the healthy working of the heart. The unsaturated fats are actually good fats as they lower blood cholesterol levels stabilize heart rhythms and are beneficial for the heart. Only certain trans fats like fast foods, margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and the likes are the main villains as they tend to lower the levels of good cholesterol i.e HDL and increase LDLs i.e. the bad cholesterol.
Recommended dietary changes
Thus saturated fats in moderate amounts are not harmful for heart but cutting back on saturated fats is recommended if it is being substituted with the healthier unsaturated fats but replacing them with refined carbohydrates like potatoes, white rice, white bread etc. is strictly inadvisable as they lower the good HDL level and increase the amount of triglycerides that strains the heart. Moreover, carbohydrates add on to the calorie intake causing obesity which in turn, affects the heart.
Adopting a Mediterranean diet or a whole-food diet is highly recommended by most of the cardiologists. It includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, nuts as well as some moderate amount of red wine. Replacing salt with herbs and spices to flavor food will also, lower the risk of cardiac disease considerably. This diet has been proved to be three times more effective at reducing cardiovascular mortality as compared to statin drugs.
Now that you have the key to a healthy heart, implement these slight alterations in your diet and experience the change. Give your heart the right fuel to keep it functioning indefatigably for years to come.
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