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The trio that can give you a healthy heart: Nuts, vitamins and minerals

A handful of nuts every day can protect your heart. © Shutterstock

A new study suggests that a handful of nuts every day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in diabetics. Read on to know how some vitamins and minerals also strengthen your heart.

A growing body of research has shown over time that diabetics are at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. But there's good news for all of you suffering from uncontrolled blood sugar levels. A handful of nuts every day can protect your heart. A recent study published in the journal Circulation Research has revealed that diabetics who eat nuts regularly are less likely to develop heart diseases compared to those who don't. While nuts provide many key proteins and nutrients to your body and strengthen your heart, here is a list of vitamins and minerals that promise to keep cardiovascular ailments at bay.

Magnesium

[caption id="attachment_649979" align="alignnone" width="655"]Magnesium-rich-food Being rich in magnesium, spinach can potentially help prevent problems like irregular heartbeat and endothelial dysfunction. Shutterstock[/caption]

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It is known as your body s natural calcium channel blocker. This is because, it balances out the excess calcium that is linked to heart attack risk. Also, magnesium is required in the body for more than 300 enzymatic reactions, like those responsible for glycaemic control, regulating blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation. The deficiency of this mineral can lead to conditions including cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), endothelial dysfunction (a condition in which the inner lining of the small arteries fails to function normally), and hypertension. In fact, a study published in the journal Nutrients associates higher magnesium intake and lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. This heart-friendly mineral can even ward off migraine attack and depression.

Food sources: Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and nuts are loaded with magnesium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits like banana, raspberries and avocado, and sea foods like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also good options.

Potassium

[caption id="attachment_649980" align="alignnone" width="655"]potassium-rich-food Jam-packed with potassium, potatoes can regulate blood pressure levels and reduce your risk of cardiac arrest. Shutterstock[/caption]

Too little potassium in your body can lead to cardiovascular diseases, a study published in the JCI Insight says. This essential mineral prevents vascular calcification (build-up of calcium in the smooth muscle cells within arteries), which hardens the arteries and causes cardiovascular problems. Potassium regulates blood pressure levels, keeps the heart rhythm steady and reduces your risk of cardiac arrest. However, taking too much of potassium intake can be fatal too. According to doctors, you should take 4.7 grams of potassium a day.

Food sources: Vegetables like potato, spinach, tomato, sweet potato, and zucchini are rich in potassium. Also, legumes and nuts including lentils, split peas, almonds, and soybeans are jam-packed with this essential mineral. You can also go for fruits like bananas, apricots, and oranges if you want to amp up your potassium intake.

Calcium

[caption id="attachment_649981" align="alignnone" width="655"]calcium rich foods Dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt boost levels of good cholesterol by 7 per cent in the body and helps preventing cardiovascular diseases. Shutterstock[/caption]

This mineral can potentially lower blood pressure and improve the performance of your heart. Moreover, it helps in the contraction and relaxation of the cardiac muscles. In fact, calcium boosts levels of good cholesterol by 7 per cent in the body and helps in weight management. However, you must keep a check on your calcium intake as excess of this mineral can be dangerous. According to nutritionists, people under the age group of 19-50 should not take more than 2,500 mg of calcium per day while the figure is 2000 mg for those in the age bracket of 51-70.

Food sources: Dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk are the best sources of calcium. Poppy, sesame, celery and chia seeds, beans and lentils are also good options. You can rely on almonds, spinach and kale for calcium.

Niacin

[caption id="attachment_649982" align="alignnone" width="655"]Niacin rich food Mushrooms are rich in niacin and help reducing bad cholesterol levels in the body by 5 to 20 per cent. Shutterstock[/caption]

It is a form of vitamin B3, that has a plethora of health benefits. It helps lower your cholesterol levels, ease arthritis and boost brain function. Being water-soluble, niacin can be easily excreted from the body if taken in high quantity. It can reduce bad cholesterol levels by 5 to 20 per cent and increase your good cholesterol. According to The American Journal of Cardiology, niacin can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which play role in atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries). Also, it protects insulin-creating cells in your pancreas and hence lower the risk of type 1 diabetes.

Food sources: Foods including avocado, brown rice, whole wheat, mushrooms, green peas, potatoes, salmon, and tuna are jam-packed with niacin.

Vitamin D

[caption id="attachment_649983" align="alignnone" width="655"]Vitamin D rich food Being rich in vitamin D, salmon can reduce oxidative stress in the vascular system that is known for playing a crucial role in development of cardiovascular diseases. Shutterstock[/caption]

Vitamin D is known to regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. According to a study published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, vitamin D significantly reduces oxidative stress (Imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to detoxify their harmful effects) in the vascular system. Notably, oxidative stress plays a crucial role in development of cardiovascular diseases.

Food sources: Salmon, canned tuna, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms, and orange juice are rich in vitamin D.

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