According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular diseases refer to disorders of heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, cerebrovascular disease, congenital heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, and rheumatic heart disease.
India accounts for one-fifth of the total number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases. It has observed that in India, the cardiovascular disease develops earlier in life compared to high-income countries. The growing prevalence of heart diseases can be prevented by raising awareness and addressing behavioral risk factors such as unhealthy diet, obesity, tobacco consumption, consumption of alcohol, and physical inactivity. Further, early screening and management of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can significantly reduce deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.
Importance of a Healthy Diet for Heart Patient
For a healthy heart, it is essential to know what to eat and what to avoid. Full-fat dairy products, including cheese and butter, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats, need to avoid as these might lead to an increase in the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thereby posing an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Heart patients also advised against the consumption of bakery products, red meat, processed food, carbonated beverages, refined carbohydrates, deep-fried foods, sweets, and desserts.
For heart patients, nutritionists emphasize the intake of a fiber-rich diet that contains less salt and sugar as well if a heart patient has diabetes.
Foods that support heart health include whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds such as flax seeds and fenugreek seeds, soy proteins, green leafy vegetables, and whole fruits, lean meats and fish, green tea, and low-fat dairies such as yogurt and milk. High fiber grains are complex carbohydrates and hence, help block cholesterol synthesis. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, millets, fibrous fruits, and vegetables are all complex carbohydrates. Lean meats such as eggs, chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy products suggested for fulfilling 15-20% of protein intake in the diet of heart patients. Olive sesame and flaxseed oils are the excellent sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Portion control is another crucial aspect while charting out a diet for heart patients. Eating in a limited amount throughout the day rather than having heavy three-course meals helps digestion and puts lesser stress on the heart. Also, heart patients advised avoiding heavy foods such as cauliflowers and beans that increase flatulence and stress the heart.
Try These Healthy Eating Habits to Secure Your Heart
Diet significantly helps in reducing the risk of heart diseases. Mentioned below are some of the healthy diet for heart patients that help you in managing your heart conditions.
Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for the health of your heart as they are rich in fiber. A fiber-rich diet helps in reducing bad cholesterol and provides nutrients that protect your heart. These food items help in keeping you full, thereby making you eat less. It also helps in moving fat through the digestive system. You can eat vegetables in the form of salad and soups to get variety in your meal.
Drinking enough water makes your heart pump easily through the blood vessels to the muscles. It also enables the muscles to work smoothly. Staying dehydrated can cause serious health problems such as headaches and swollen feet that may cause heart stroke.
Eliminate trans-fat from the diet
Trans fats are mostly found in food items such as fried food, pizzas, and snacks. Taking trans-fat reduces the level of HDL (High-Density Lipoproteins) that may cause cardiovascular disease and may increase plaque in the blood vessel walls. This may lead to even death in some cases.
>>Check: Heart Mediclaim
Consume saturated fats in moderation
Saturated fats are found in dairy products, red meat, and tropical oil. It should be restricted to not more than 10% of the calorie intake. You may include taking protein sources in your diet such as eggs, fish and vegetables.
Include the right kind of carbohydrates
It is advised to eat food items such as brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potatoes that help in controlling your blood sugar levels. Try to avoid taking sugary foods.
Eat meals at regular intervals
Taking meals at regular intervals helps in controlling your blood sugar level and cholesterol, and helps in burning fat. It is equally important to eat in moderation. While, taking large portions of nutrient-rich food, such as fast foods can help you in controlling your heart and waistline.
Healthy Indian Diet to Lower Risks of Heart Attacks
Some traditional Indian recipes, when cooked with less salt and oil/ghee, can be healthy and tasty alternatives for patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Keeping a check on the amount and type of oil/ ghee is very important while cooking for heart patients. Three teaspoons of oil/ ghee (15 ml) recommended. Cooking with groundnut oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil can further benefit heart patients. Indian recipes use seeds such as fenugreek seeds that serve as a rich source of soluble fiber and are known to reduce cholesterol.
The amount of salt in cooking also needs to be monitored. Though 5-6 grams of salt per day recommended for healthy individuals, heart patients advised taking no more than 2 grams of salt. Here are a few Indian food options that can include in the diet of heart patients:
- Breakfasts such as poha, upma, idli, dosa, thepla, paratha, khandvi, or dhokla supplemented with a glass of milk or a glass of buttermilk. Fermented foods have probiotics that have health benefits.
- Lunch comprises Rotis or a bowl of rice with a vegetable curry or fish/ chicken curry, daal, and a bowl of curd/ raita.
- Snacks include khakhra, puffed rice, chaat containing boiled corn/ sprouts, along with a cup of green tea.
- Dinner comprises Rotis or a bowl of khichdi, with a vegetable curry, daal, and curd.
Nowadays, dieticians suggest making traditional Indian recipes with healthier alternative ingredients. Making Khichdi with moong dal and barley, vegetable curries with fibrous vegetables such as broccoli and carrots, idli and upma with oats or quinoa, or roti and parathas with multigrain flour can further increase their nutritional value.
*Note: Please consult with your doctor before taking this diet.
Protect Your Heart with Our Care Heart
A healthy diet, coupled with an active lifestyle, can significantly lower the risks of heart diseases. However, in medical emergencies and treatments, expenses can put a financial strain on heart patients and their families. Getting health insurance or upgrading an existing one to cover heart-related treatments is wise, especially for people with a history of cardiac diseases in their families or patients suffering from heart-related conditions. Care Health Insurance (Formerly Religare Health Insurance)'s Care Heart is a health insurance plan that offers comprehensive coverage for pre-existing heart diseases. The plan takes care of hospitalization expenses and alternate treatments, ambulance expenses, OPD expenses(optional cover), and a lot more.
Why should you consider Care Heart?
If you are looking for comprehensive health insurance that covers your heart ailments treatment expenses, you can consider Care Heart from Care Health Insurance (Formerly Religare Health Insurance). This health insurance plan provides the following benefits:
- No pre-policy medical check-up
- In-patient hospitalization
- Pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization medical expenses
- Ambulance cover
- Automatic recharge facility
- Domiciliary hospitalization
- Day Care Treatment
- No Claim Bonus
- Annual Cardiac Health Check-up
- Tax benefits under section 80D of the Income Tax Act of India 1961
With the change in lifestyle, people are becoming prone to critical illnesses, and heart illness is one of them. Hence, buying a health insurance plan has become a necessity.