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World Heart Day: Top 7 Foods for a Healthy Heart

World Heart Day: Top 7 Foods for a Healthy Heart

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  • The World Heart Day raises awareness on the importance of heart health in preventing cardiovascular events and premature death
  • Diet and lifestyle play a key role in improving heart health
  • Foods that contain dietary fiber, unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids help lower the risk of heart disease

World Heart Day, created and led by the World Heart Federation (WHF) is an annual event observed on 29th September. The aim of World Heart Day is to combat the rising number of people with cardiovascular disease.

The theme for this year's World Heart Day is 'Share the Power'. The theme encourages everyone around the world to inspire their family, friends, and communities to lead better, longer and more heart-healthy lives.


World Heart Day: Top 7 Foods for a Healthy Heart

On the World Heart Day several activities and events are being planned to raise awareness and promote the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle modifications are the primary measures to lead a heart-healthy life.

Heart-Healthy Foods

The food we eat could either be the powerful medicine or the slowest form of poison. Eating a healthy diet improves heart health and prevent premature death. But, unhealthy diet increases cholesterol levels, elevates blood pressure, leading to cardiovascular diseases and premature death.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are a good source of dietary fiber and other vital nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Some of the examples of whole grains are brown rice, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, wheat, barley and whole grain farro. Whole grain products include whole-wheat bread and whole grain pasta.

Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and folate. Studies have shown that eating one serving of legumes per day helped lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol levels. Split peas, butter beans, kidney beans, soybeans, broad beans, and chickpeas are some of the commonly used legumes.

Nuts are good sources of vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats that improve heart health by reducing the inflammation of the arteries. Vitamin E in nuts prevents the development of plaques in arteries. L-arginine is an amino acid found in nuts that improve the flexibility of artery walls and prevent clots that block blood flow. Some of the heart-healthy nuts are almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios.

Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fishes protect the heart by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attack. Some of the fatty fishes high in omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and albacore tuna.

Berries are rich in phytonutrients that increase the levels of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels relax and subsequently lower blood pressure. Eating one cup of mixed berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries increased the levels of good or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels when consumed every day for eight weeks, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in flavanol, which can improve heart health with its blood-thinning effect. Flavanol may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. A compound in cocoa called epicatechin boosts nitric oxide that helps maintain normal blood pressure levels. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoids than milk chocolates. For example, 100 grams of dark chocolate provides 46 to 61 mg of catechin, while milk chocolates provide only 15 to 16 mg of catechins. Yogurt
Yogurt consumption has been linked to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A comparative study found that yogurt consumers appeared to have normal body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference; low levels of triglycerides, fasting glucose, blood pressure and higher levels of LDL cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that yogurt can protect against gum disease, which elevates the risk of heart disease.

About World Heart Day
In 2000, the World Heart Federation launched World Heart Day to create awareness among people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death. Cardiovascular diseases claim 17.5 million lives every year. The number of heart-related deaths is expected to rise to 23 million by 2030. In India, 15% of people aged between 30 and 70 die due to cardiovascular disease. This year, the emphasis is on four key practices that can help maintain good heart health - know your heart, move your heart, love your heart and fuel your heart.

Professor David Wood, Cardiologist and President of the World Heart Federation said, "We cannot underestimate the global importance of good heart health. Thirty-one percent of all deaths worldwide are from cardiovascular diseases. World Heart Day is our chance to bring people together to tackle the world's biggest killer and urge more people across the globe to improve their heart health. The power to change is in our hands. Making lifestyle changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables, keeping active and stopping smoking can save millions of lives."

The World Heart Federation has joined forces with Manulife and Philips to raise awareness and encourage people to take action and help achieve the goal of 25% reduction in premature deaths from cardiovascular disease by 2025.

Phil Witherington, Interim CEO, Manulife Asia said, "Manulife sets out to help people achieve their dreams and aspirations. A healthy life is crucial in being able to reach those goals. We have a substantial part to play in promoting good health and active living around the world, which is why we've joined forces with the World Heart Federation. Over the next three years, we'll be working together to raise awareness about heart health, with the goal of improving the health of our customers, employees, and communities."

Selina Thurer, Business Leader for Philips, said, "A leader in health technology and proud partner of the World Heart Federation, this year Philips is celebrating World Heart Day around the theme of 'healthy eating for a healthy heart.' We believe that wholesome food and drink are the building blocks of a healthy, happy life. Day by day we are committed to empowering people to enjoy the longer-term health benefits of homemade food - such as a reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese, and developing heart disease."

  1. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids - (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp)
  2. Dark Chocolate Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure - (http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html)
  3. Healthy eating - (https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/healthy-eating)

Source: Medindia

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