Heart healers


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You can fight heart disease by making good food choices

Simple changes in lifestyle can reverse heart disease. We all know this old saying, Making changes in your lifestyle can help your heart and blood vessels go back to how they were before your doctor told you that you have heart disease. Following a low fat, high fibre, balanced diet, clean living and stress management can reverse heart disease in many people. Cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and whole milk dairy products and look for the following foods that not only lower bad cholesterol but also keep your heart healthy.

Top 10 foods for a healthy heart

Cherries: Good things come in small packages. Just look at a cherry; this tiny, sweet fruit contains over 17 compounds to clear away artery clogging plaque fat better than any vitamin supplement. These compounds, found in anthocyanin that gives cherries their red colour have potent antioxidant properties and go a long way in protecting our heart. Like many other fruits and vegetables, cherries also have fibre and potassium to help your heart.
Apple: Mothers who are giving their children an apple everyday are doing more than seeking favour — they are giving the children an "A" in heart health. Apple contains pectin, a soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol. They are also rich source of querectin and potassium and magnesium, minerals that keep your blood pressure under control.
Grape juice (a big no-no for diabetics): A whole grape is greater than the sum of its parts, Both grape skin extract and grape seed extract have a few heart healthy properties- but together , they are as dynamic duo. That's why grape juice made from whole grapes, is an artery- clearing wonder as it protects your artery walls from cholesterol because of several powerful substances.
Garlic:  Studies have shown that this fragrant kitchen staple lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and prevents blood clots from forming. The sulphur compounds in this amazing herb not only lower cholesterol and triglycerides but they also go after the bad cholesterol) LDL) and leave the good cholesterol (HDL). While the research continues, it won't hurt to add some garlic to your diet.
Ginger: Make your dinner tastier and your arteries a little bit healthier with this ancient spice. Ginger contains phytochemicals called gingerol and Shao gal, which give it its antioxidant power.
Fish: Reel in a big, fat fish and wriggle off the hook of atherosclerosis- omega-3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated kinds found in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, protect your arteries from damage. First, omega-3 takes out triglycerides, the fats that build up on your artery walls. It also stops your blood's platelets from clumping together. Other sources of omega-3 include walnuts, flaxseed, wheat germ, and some green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach etc.Strawberries: These beautiful looking bodies are loaded with antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, ellagic acid, assorted carotenoids and anthocyanin. These mighty berries can cut cholesterol levels by 10 per cent so why not toss some into your breakfast cereal.
Monounsaturated fat: To keep your blood running smoothly may be you need an oil change. Olive oil, the main source of fat in the heart healthy Mediterranean diet, has mostly unsaturated fat. This type of fat slashes the bad cholesterol without harming the good cholesterol. It also prevents clotting, giving your arteries even more protection. Besides olive oil, sources of monounsaturated fat include avocados, nuts and canola oil.
Antioxidants: An unarmed intruder poses less of a threat than one with a weapon. Stopping free radicals from oxidising LDL cholesterol, antioxidants remove much of the danger. Once oxidised, LDL cholesterol makes a beeline for your artery walls much faster. Vitamin C, E and beta carotene are the most powerful antioxidants. Peppers, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, and broccoli give you vitamin C, while carrots, sweet peppers, spinach, mangoes, and collard greens are full of beta carotene. Sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
Water: Blood is thicker than water but it is also thicker without water. Dehydration can make many risk factors for heart disease, including thick, sticky blood, even worse. Studies indicate that people who drank five or more glasses of water a day fared much better against heart disease than those who drank two or fewer glasses of water. The best quality of this magical liquid is that when you drink water, it becomes absorbed in your blood and makes your blood less thick and less likely to clot.

Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah Hospital

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