February 11, 2021 | Written By: Haris Asyraf
Humans are born with one heart. The human heart works to pump blood throughout the body non-stop every day, every hour, minutes and seconds. Every organ in our body needs oxygen and nutrients from the blood, and the heart is vital in making sure these are delivered to every cell in the body. Without a heart, the brain will not receive any blood, oxygen nor nutrient that the brain cells need, then our brain will be dead. Without the heart, waste products of the body cells cannot be pumped to the kidneys for removal from our body. Besides, if the heart is not constantly pumped, oxygen cannot be delivered to other organs including the lungs.
See, how important the heart is to make sure our body can function properly. Therefore, it is very important for us to take care of our hearts. One of the causes of heart disease is high cholesterol intake that causes blockage of the heart blood vessels. Now, let's see what is good for your heart health.
Best Food For Your Heart
1. Fishes Rich In Omega-3
Fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are among the fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 plays a role in lowering the level of triglyceride in the blood. It can reduce the risk of clogged blood vessels and help reduce high blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
How many fish do you need to eat in a week? An adult human needs to eat 225 grams of fish on average to get a sufficient omega-3 supply.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is not just an expensive oil that is often used by Michelin star chefs. This oil has a lot of health benefits, especially for your heart. In one study, someone who consumed olive oil daily could reduce the risk of heart attack by 15%.
Other than olive oil, corn oil or canola can be used in the preparation of your cooking as an alternative to margarine.
Do not underestimate spinach! Spinach is one of the green leafy vegetables that have a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Adding spinach to your daily diet can improve your heart health.
This vegetable is rich in nitrate. Nitrate helps dilate the blood vessels and indirectly lower the blood pressure. This allows the blood to flow smoothly to all organs including the heart which needs to work hard every day.
Nowadays, the trend of "overnight oats" is becoming more popular both among the elderly and the youngsters. This is one of the best foods for your heart. Oats play a role in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol, known as "bad cholesterol" which often leads to clogged blood vessels which indirectly reduces the risk of a heart attack. Oats can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension. It is very easy to prepare the overnight oats. Put a few tablespoons of oats in a glass, then add fresh milk, chia seeds and raisins. Store in the refrigerator overnight. After that, it is ready to eat with your favorite fruit! Easy peasy isn't it?
5. Nuts & Legumes
Peas, black beans, chickpeas and soybeans are good examples of nuts that can help you avoid heart disease. These nuts have a variety of nutrients and benefits for health. On the other hand, They also help in reducing the levels of triglyceride and LDL cholesterol in our body, as well as lowering blood pressure.
If you slice a tomato into halves, you will see that tomatoes also have chambers in them. This red plump fruit resembles our heart, doesn’t it?
Tomatoes contain lycopene. What is lycopene? It is a substance that has antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are important in preventing damage and inflammation of the heart which is the common risk factor of heart disease. A study has shown that eating 2 raw tomatoes 4 times a week can increase the level of HDL which is the good cholesterol in your body.
Almonds are good for heart health as they can lower cholesterol levels. Almonds also increase antioxidant levels, lower blood pressure and improve your blood flow.
Eating almonds can also help you lose belly fat. But remember, choose plain roasted almonds instead of sweetened, salted or flavored ones if you want to snack on them.
Garlic has plenty of nutrients and can give you a lot of health benefits especially in maintaining a healthy heart and preventing heart disease. Garlic also prevents atherosclerosis, lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol levels.
Eating a clove of garlic everyday helps protect your heart!
9. Green Tea
Green tea contains high levels of antioxidants which helps your body fight free radicals and prevents inflammation in the blood vessels. Increased free radicals can cause damage to our cells while inflammation increases plaque formation in blood vessels which clogged them in the future. Green tea also reduces the levels of triglyceride and LDL cholesterol.
10. Dark Chocolate
If you are a chocolate lover, maybe this is a piece of good news for you. Dark chocolate prevents the formation of atherosclerosis. Dark chocolate also prevents your blood vessels from hardening. Hardened blood vessels will lose their elasticity. This condition causes high blood pressure.
Dark chocolate also inhibits the white blood cells from clogging and sticking to the walls of blood vessels which if happens will lead the vessels to become narrower, and may cause high blood pressure. Studies show that individuals who eat dark chocolate twice a week can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32%.
How To Eat For A Healthy Heart?
Other than consuming the foods mentioned above, your daily eating habits should also be taken into account. Here are some healthy eating practices to do to keep your heart and body healthy.
1. Control Portion Sizes
Use the half-quarter formula when taking a meal. Use a medium-sized plate and fill a quarter of it with protein, another quarter with carbohydrates, and half of it with a variety of vegetables and fruits.
2. Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Vegetables and fruits are very important in your diet and it is recommended to take them in large quantities. Diverse vegetable and fruit dishes in your daily diet and avoid adding sauces and dressings to the vegetables and fruits you eat.
3. Reduce Oils and Salts in Cooking
Oil increases cholesterol levels in the blood which increases the risk of clogged blood vessels. Excessive salt intake can cause high blood pressure and damage the kidneys.
4. "Cheat Day"
Rewarding yourself with snacks or your favorite treats such as sweets and pastries once a week will not ruin your efforts to live a healthy life. But do not use this excuse to take it often!
How To Prevent Heart Disease
In addition to nutrition, you also need to practice other healthy lifestyles to maintain heart health such as:
Exercise can strengthen the heart and improve blood flow. Regular exercise also reduces cholesterol and prevents high blood pressure.
Smoking not only increases the risk of heart attack, but also various other diseases such as lung cancer, oral cancer and many to list. Stay away from cigarettes to protect yourself and your family.
Controlling blood sugar levels
If you are a diabetic or even a non-diabetic, reducing your sugar intake in your daily diet is very good for maintaining good health!
Manage stress well
Heart disease is closely related to stress. Managing stress in your daily life can reduce the risk of heart attack and is good for your mental and physical health.
Get enough sleep
Everyone needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Inadequate sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, which are very dangerous for heart health.
*The free doctor consult initiative is supported and fully funded by DoctorOnCall