Hi. The core of most exercise regime is cardio-vascular fitness. Most workout programs are built around the cardio theme and we have covered a lot of treadmills reviews so far. So, the natural flow would be a post on what would make a heart healthy diet. Here are some foods (list not in order of merit) that do great favours for the heart. We could have recipes involving these foods as ingredients.
1. Salmon: This pink-fleshed fish is loaded with nutritional value – it delivers 34% RDA completeness on omega 3 fatty acids for a single 100 gm intake. For the heart, it reduces erratic heart rhythms (ischemic arrhythmia), prevents clots (that blocks arteries and cause strokes), promotes good cholesterol to bad cholesterol ratio and prevents damage of cholesterols. Try to include Salmon twice a week in your diet to maximize heart benefits. You could also use Mackerel or Sardines, which have similar heart benefits.
2. Oats: Oats are high in soluble fibre and help to lower the bad cholesterol LDL. The antioxidant unique to oats, called avenanthramides helps prevent free radicals from damaging the heart and causing diseases. All anti-oxidant rich foods are beneficial for the heart. Brown rice and Wholemeal breads have similar properties. Studies have shown including whole grains in your diet reduces the risks for heart diseases.
3. Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas: It is not just the fibre of chickpeas that reduces LDl cholesterol but the significant amounts of Folates and Magnesium in Garbanzo Beans. Folates reduce levels of homocysteine in our blood and this helps us reduce our risk to strokes and peripheral vascular diseases. Similar benefits may be had from Kidney beans, Fava beans, Lima beans and other categories of beans.
4. Fruits: Almost all fruits are heart-healthy. Avoid fruits you know you are allergic to. Of particular value from the cardio perspective are: Strawberries, Plums, Peach, Cherries, Kiwis etc. They are all rich in heart protective compounds like phenols, flavonoids, ellagitannins, anthocyannins and have good anti-oxidant capabilities. On the whole, most fruits of purple, blue, red, pink, yellow colors will have more nutritional benefits than green ones. So, try and include as many colors as you can and see if you can stick to the richer, darker colors.
5. Veggies: Here again like fruits, you can’t go wrong with any vegetable unless you are allergic to it and if you are taking it in moderation. Zucchini, Broccoli, Spinach, Capsicums, Eggplant and Soya pretty much top the list though any vegetable will have deliverable goodies for the heart. Try and include as many colors as possible while shopping for vegetables.
6. Nuts: Nuts are good in general but Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans and Chestnuts are leaders of the pack. They all reduce LDL, reduce free radical damage are loaded with magnesium and potassium and are saturated in anti-oxidants crucial for heart-health.
7. Oils: The fats you eat should be mono-saturated or polyunsaturated. Mono saturated fats are best sourced from Olive oil, Sunflower oil, or Groundnut oil. Polyunsaturated fats could include Soya, Sunflower oil and Walnut oil. These oils reduce free radical damage to cholesterol, reduce inflammation, protect the inner lining of the blood vessels, and reduce chances of blood clot formation.
Until next week, bon appétit with heart-friendly eating..