Heart diseases account for more than 32% of all deaths worldwide. In Malaysia alone, 21 % of total deaths are due to coronary heart diseases and 17 % are from ischaemic heart diseases. These numbers are worrying as it does increase gradually year by year. Just like with any other disease, “prevention is better than cure”. To prevent one from getting a heart disease or lowering risk for this debilitating disease, a healthy lifestyle by exercising and practising healthy eating habits goes a long way than just protecting one from heart disease as it also nourishes the body in general. In this article, we will be focusing on healthy food for heart.
Practising healthy eating consists of reflecting upon current eating habits both good and bad, replacing the unhealthy eating habits with healthier one and reinforcing the new healthier eating habits. In order to do so, a person must know and understand what is actually healthy food especially for the heart. With the vast information and food technology available, it can be rather difficult to choose which health food is actually best for the heart. Fret not, here are example of health food for the heart that helps narrow down your choice and search:
1- Vegetables. Without a doubt, there are so many vegetables available in the market and pretty sure mostly does help keep a heart healthy. It is better to eat it fresh. Dried or tinned vegetables may contain high preservatives and may actually compromise the natural nutrient of the vegetable. Frozen vegetables can also be a good choice if it is difficult to get fresh one. Examples of vegetables good for the heart include tomatoes, kale, carrots, spinach and cabbage.
2- Fruits. These juicy treats are not just delicious, but also beneficial for the heart. Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, pear, bananas and peaches are high in antioxidants and vitamins for the heart. It is also high in folate which helps to lower the blood vessels by lowering the homocysteine that is responsible for heart disease. Try to include 5 portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis by having it in variety.
3- Oily fish. Not to be confused with fish cooked with oil, oily fish are fish that are high in fat such as the omega-3 fatty acids that are considered as unsaturated fat. This fat helps to lower triglycerides (a bad fat) and increase the good fat like HDL cholesterol. It also helps with blood vessels from getting clot easily. Examples of oily fish are mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna.
4- Unsaturated oil. Oil is often seen as a nemesis to the heart but there is no doubt that oil gives flavour to food and even helps provide nutrients for the heart. Unsaturated oil is a much healthier choice as it does not compromise with heart and the blood vessel when taken accordingly. These oils include vegetable oil such as canola, olive, sunflower, peanut and corn. You can opt for margarine instead of butter for a much healthier spread or oil.
5- Wholegrain. This type of grain is high in fibre that helps to reduce risk for heart disease. It also makes an excellent source of carbohydrate to provide energy for the body. Wholegrain is considered as food with low glycaemic index which helps a person manage their diet and to control body weight. Whole grain can be found in cereal like in oatmeal, bread, tortillas, pasta, couscous, brown rice, and quinoa.
It is important to avoid food high in salt (sodium) and saturated fat as it can greatly increase risk for heart disease. Limiting processed food and fast food is great for the heart. Reduce intake of food with added sugar and refined carbohydrates.