Do: Eat Your Vegetables
It’s the cheapest, simplest way to protect your heart and yet, fewer than 10 per cent of people do it. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, the folate content of these foods helps lower the blood levels of amino acid homocysteine, which appears to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
The higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. All fruits and vegetables add to the benefits but green vegetables like lettuce and spinach, and broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy as well as citrus fruits offer the most protection.
Do: Get Enough Magnesium
A deficiency in this mineral can result in an abnormal heart rhythm. It is frequently prescribed in hospitals to treat arrhythmia, so protect your heart by eating more magnesium-rich foods including pumpkin seeds, spinach and almonds.
Tip: Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and seeds have the highest amounts of potassium and magnesium. Potassium and magnesium help guard against heart diseases!
READ MORE: How Eating More Chia Seeds Can Slow Down The Ageing Process (Plus Other Health Benefits)
Do: Watch your Vitamin D levels
Having low levels has been linked has been linked to an increase in heart disease. In a study conducted with 114 participants in Singapore, approximately 42 per cent of them were vitamin D deficient. Hence it is wise to have your levels tested. Your doctor will recommend supplements if necessary, but safe sun exposure is the best way to maintain healthy levels.
If you do suffer from low vitamin D levels, watch your weight. Did you know being overweight could be to blame? Fat cells absorb Vitamin D and keep it from circulating throughout the bloodstream.
Don't: Go Gluten-Free
Unless you’re a coeliac, don’t do it. There is a link between eating gluten-free foods and a slight increase in heart attack, and experts say it could be due to a lack of fibre and B vitamins that tends to occur if you avoid foods with gluten. Overall, because wholegrains are thought to reduce cardiovascular risk, sticking to a gluten-free diet unnecessarily is not recommended for people who don’t have coeliac disease.
Many whole grains are good sources of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can help you improve blood cholesterol levels. In addition to fiber, grains provide nutrients like thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), folate (Vitamin B9), iron, magnesium and selenium.
Don't: Eat A Lot Of Pastries
Eating a high-sugar diet has been shown to increase your risk of dying from heart disease even if you’re not overweight. The more sugar you eat, the greater the risk, shows research. Sweet drinks have been linked to an increase in blood pressure, but although upper limits are given for fat and salt intake, no recommendations for sugar intake are specified when it comes to heart health. Always try to go for reduced or no sugar options in your drinks.
If you’re going to have something sweet, have a fruit-based dessert. That way, at least you’re getting something good out of it. Plain fruit with no added sugar is ideal but if you’re trying to curb a soda habit, mix a little fruit juice with seltzer water as a replacement.
What about saturated fat?
It’s a common belief that eating saturated fat clogs your arteries, resulting in heart disease. Yet numerous studies have failed to find a link between saturated fat, like that found in full-fat dairy, and heart disease, leading some experts to recommend we place less emphasis on reducing saturated fat intake. They stress that eating real food, moving more, and avoiding harmful fats found in some packaged foods and junk foods is the key to a healthy heart.