Diet

A ‘heart healthy’ diet is designed for those who have problems related to the heart (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack) and also for those who would like to reduce the risk of heart diseases in the future. Following such a diet can be beneficial for all, especially since research shows that Indians are genetically predisposed to heart disease.

Healthy eating is easier than you think. Remember, it’s the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Total calories per day for South Indians could be around 1500K/cal. The carbohydrate content could be around 60%, protein content could be around 15% of total calories and the fat content could be around 25% of total calories.

Dietary fats

Dietary fats are classified into three main groups – saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans fats:

Cholesterol is present only in foods of animal origin such as milk and meat, but not in plant foods. Higher dietary cholesterol increases blood cholesterol. Therefore, cholesterol intake should be maintained below 200 mg/day. One can reduce both saturated fat and cholesterol intake by limiting the consumption of high-fat animal foods like butter, ghee, meat, egg and organ meats and consuming low-fat (skimmed) milk instead of whole milk.

Sodium

Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The amount of salt you eat should be less than 5g per day. That’s less than a teaspoon. Foods with high salt levels include salted and preserved foods like pickle, papad, dried fish, commercially baked products like biscuits and pastries, junk food, pasta, fried chicken, and packaged foods, such as tinned and instant soup/noodles.

Fibre

Foods high in fibre tend to be low in fat and calories. Vegetables and fruits are not only a good source of vitamins and minerals, they are also high in dietary fibre. Whole grains are also a good source of fibre. Consume more fibre for better cardiac health.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing heart problems. It also increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and many other problems. Garlic, onions and oranges are a good source of antioxidants and food supplements like flax seed and nuts have high omega 3 fatty acids.

Healthy eating goals

Make the following steps a part of your life for long-term benefits:

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