A healthy diet can increase the chances of a person’s survival after a heart attack by relieving pressure on heart and blood circulation. There is a lot of misconception that your diet goes through a dramatic transformation and that you have to cut out the food you have been used to before the attack. What most people don’t realise is that a balanced diet with healthier alternatives doesn’t have to be bland. In fact, your diet can have a great flavour profile.
Shweta Mahadik, Clinical Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, says, “If a person is concerned about heart health, it is vital to understand which foods are healthy for his/her heart, to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure while improving the quality and length of their life.”
Here are some of her tips:
- Focus on a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, especially those with good fibre. It is always a good idea to choose vegetables and fruits that are deeply coloured as they have good micro-nutrient content and density. Such a diet would be rich in plant sterols. If you have plant sterols between two and three grams per day, they can naturally reduce LDL-cholesterol.
- Make sure you pick whole-grain, high-fibre foods as an essential part of your diet. These items can include fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans).
- Consume a sufficient amount of protein, including skimmed milk and its products, legumes, pulses, whole grains, egg whites, poultry and fish, to name a few.
- Eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like oily fish (sardine, mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, trout), almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds to help lower bad cholesterol.
- Ensure the amount of saturated fat and trans-fat foods, including bakery products, packaged foods, red meat, ghee, butter, Dalda and margarine are restricted. Saturated fat is found in animal foods and products, be it butter, cream and lard. It’s found in coconut and palm oils as well as processed foods.
- Instead of frying, choose cooking methods like broiling, boiling, stewing, grilling, baking and roasting.
- Make sure salt intake in your food is limited, as salt can increase blood pressure. Hence, stay away from foods like pickle, papad, canned and preserved vegetables and fruits, dry fish, namkeen, readymade chutneys, tomato ketchup and ready-to-eat products.
- Do not drink a lot of carbonated beverages and foods as they contain high sugar.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Exercise for at least 30-40 minutes, at least five days a week. These can include yoga, brisk walking, aerobics, swimming and bicycling.
- Have decaffeinated coffee: This removes 97 per cent of the caffeine from coffee beans but leaves behind two to three per cent. A controlled study of ten samples of prepared decaffeinated coffee from coffee shops showed that 14 to 20 cups of such coffee would contain as much caffeine as one cup of regular coffee. It is an excellent source of anti-oxidants (polyphenols and chlorogenic acid) and has minor amounts of some nutrients like niacin, magnesium and potassium. This helps prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Also, decaf is a good alternative for the caffeine-sensitive, pregnant women and individuals taking certain medications. But like everything else, never overdo it.