Heart disease is an umbrella term for a range of heart complications or heart conditions. Commonly referred to as cardiovascular disease, people of the UAE are well aware as statistics within the region have reached alarming heights.
According to Dr. Abdullah Shehab, Chairman of the Emirates Cardiac Society, the threshold for cardiac arrest and cardiovascular disease worldwide is 65 years of age. In the UAE, it’s 45 years of age, making the residence of the UAE die from cardiovascular disease younger than any other people in the world.
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With the alarming statistic being a concern, it’s important to understand heart-healthy foods we can consume to decrease our chances of heart disease as well as managing its conditions better.
Heart diseases include complications such as arrhythmias (heartbeat issues), heart defects since birth, and cardiovascular complications, including narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart, chest pain, stroke, and heart attack. Common heart diseases include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Septal defect
- Congenital heart disease
Heart-healthy Foods to Combat Heart Disease
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach, kale, and collard greens are one fo the best foods to have for heart health. Its vitamin K content helps to protect arteries and promote proper and stable blood clotting.
The dietary nitrates in leafy green vegetables are also known to reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Studies have shown that increasing the intake of leafy vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are perfect for heart health and should be chosen ahead of refined grains as they are higher in fibre and can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, and rye can improve digestion and decrease the risk of heart disease by controlling cholesterol levels. One analysis showed that eating three additional serves of whole-grain foods per day was associated with a 22% lower risk of heart disease.
One of the best types of fruits for heart health available, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are great, just to name a few. They contain an abundance of healthy nutrients that can improve almost all aspects of your health. Berries are rich in antioxidants.
One in particular called anthocyanins can help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation that can cause heart disease. Its fibre and antioxidant content can also help to control LDL cholesterol levels.
One of the best sources of healthy fats available, avocados are a fantastic source of monosaturated fats, that are linked with reducing cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Avocados also contain an abundance of potassium which can help with managing blood pressure. Studies have shown that avocados helped to reduce LDL cholesterol and significantly lower the risk of heart disease.
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which are great for boosting heart health. Studies have shown that eating fatty fish 3 times a week significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also useful in reducing inflammation and reduce other risk factors of heart disease. If you don’t like fish or struggle to eat too much, fish oil tablets are a great and convenient alternative.
6. Dark Chocolate
Rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate is good for lowering heart disease and boost overall heart health. Several studies have shown that dark chocolate can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
One study showed that people who ate dark chocolate at least 5 days a week had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease than people who did not eat chocolate at all. Just be sure to eat dark chocolate and not milk chocolate as it is high in processed sugars. The higher the cocoa percentage, the higher in flavonoids.
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, a natural plant pigment that combats oxidative damage and inflammation that can cause heart attacks. Low blood levels of lycopene are linked with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Tomatoes are also known to increase HDL (good) cholesterol which can help to remove access to cholesterol in the arteries and boost overall heart health.
The Importance of Exercise
Consistent physical activity is essential for people with heart disease or a heart condition. Not only does good dieting and eating heart-healthy foods important, but exercise is also just as important and effective in boosting heart health.
If you are not familiar with physical activity or routine exercise, you can start by doing basic practices such as going for walks, working in the garden or simply doing at-home bodyweight exercises and stretches.
Working up a sweat and pushing yourself is enough to boost your heart and cardiovascular health.
When to See a Doctor?
If you experience any symptoms of heart disease or anything irregular in your health, speak with a doctor at first notice. If you have already experienced heart disease in your health, be sure to get regular check-ups with your doctor, regardless of whether you are or aren’t already eating heart-healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle.
Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.
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