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Link Between Nutrition And Heart Health Explained By Dietician

Dietician Rajeswari V Shetty explains the link between heart health and nutrition.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : September 30, 2022 10:37 AM IST

Nutrition plays an essential role in the prevention of heart disease. Evidence has shown that poor nutrition is linked to the progression of heart disease, and good food has been associated with the prevention and management of heart disease. Food-related risk factors are obesity, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, and a diet high in saturated fats. Conversely, a low-saturated fat, high-fibre, high plant food diet can substantially reduce the risk of developing heart disease. In addition, remarkable medical techniques and technological developments can improve the odds of overcoming the devastating effects of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. Dietician Rajeswari V Shetty, Consultant-Head of Department, Dietetics, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, explains the link between heart health and nutrition.

Nutritional Balance

How do you maintain a nutritional balance? For example, diets too high in animal fat elevate LDL cholesterol to artery-clogging levels. However, the body requires a certain amount of healthy fats, such as olive oil, to absorb and use other vital nutrients like vitamins D and E, which also influence heart function. So one of the finest things a person can do to protect their heart is to maintain a balanced diet.

Sugary Foods

Although glucose (sugar) is required for cellular function, too many sugary or high-carb foods can lead to a glucose overload that fuels Type 2 diabetes and obesity, damaging the heart. However, overindulging in even healthy fresh fruits that contain lots of carbs, such as bananas, can cause the blood sugars to rise. Therefore, portion control and calorie intake are essential when designing a heart-healthy diet.

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Heart Healthy Foods

Some foods are considered healthy for the heart in all editions of food guides and recommendations, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which have always been considered fundamental for health, and other foods can currently be regarded as heart-healthy, supported by various studies such as virgin olive oil, pulses, fish, and nuts (especially nuts). Diet should include a variety of minimally processed foods, based on your calorie needs, from specific food groups.

Foods To Consider

Whole grains

Nuts and seeds

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Legumes

Low-fat dairy

Significantly restricting or eliminating (if possible) added sugars, refined carbs (white bread and rice), highly processed snacks, and red and processed meats in the diet helps keep the heart healthy.

Sodium Intake

The American Heart Association also recommends limiting the sodium intake to 1,500 and 2,300 mg (1 teaspoon of salt) daily. A healthy lifestyle and diet are the best tools for good cardiovascular health. This relationship is direct as most cardiovascular diseases originate in atherosclerotic plaque, hypertension, and obesity.

Heart-Healthy Diets

While there are some heart-healthy diets, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean diet, the best diet for preventing heart disease is one that emphasizes fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. It also includes alcohol, if at all, but only in moderation. In addition, it limits the consumption of red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar and sodium, and nutrition and drinks with trans-fat.

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