From Oats to Dark Chocolate: Six Foods To Keep Your Heart Healthy
A smart strategy to keep your heart healthy is to tame the risk factors - by eating specific risk reducing foods.  
A smart strategy to keep your heart healthy is to tame the risk factors - by eating specific risk reducing foods.  (Photo: iStockphoto)

From Oats to Dark Chocolate: Six Foods To Keep Your Heart Healthy

(September 29 is World Heart Day. This story is being reposted from Quint Fit's archives in light of that)

Way to your heart is through what's on your plate. There is no doubt about that. But besides the regular good diet rules like eating a low sodium, low fat diet, high in antioxidants, one smart strategy to keep your heart healthy is to tame the risk factors - by eating specific risk reducing foods.

Below is a list of 6 immensely effective foods:

1. Oats to Reduce Bad (LDL) Cholesterol

(Photo: iStockphoto)

High cholesterol is big risk factor and oats are at the top of the list of cholesterol busters because they act almost like nature's broom, liter-ally whisking excess bad cholesterol out of the system.

Why Oats?

The soluble fibre in this high protein grain helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream and also helps throw it right out of your system.

Make it Exciting

Eat oats for lunch, try oats upma:

  • Add 1 cup of water to 2 tablespoons of oats,
  • Add 1 chopped chilli, 1 chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of grated carrots and 1 table-spoon of frozen or fresh peas.
  • Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir in a spoonful of plain yogurt, season to taste, add a few sprigs of dhania (coriander leaves) and savour.
How much? Two to three times a week is a good idea.

Also Read : From Banana to Oats: Here Are 5 Foods to Eat Before a Workout

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2. Almonds to Raise Good (HDL) Cholesterol

(Photo: iStockphoto)

HDL works like a garbage bad; it gathers cholesterol from the arteries, and helps to transport it out of the body. Eating a small serving of almonds (about eight kernels) daily is enough to raise HDL levels by as much as 16 per cent after 12 weeks, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Why Almonds?

Almonds pack in fats too but most of it is unsaturated, particularly MUFA, which is great for our heart (lowers bad cholesterol and in-creases the good one). E and magnesium prevent heart attacks, and folic acid stops fatty plaque buildup in arteries.

Make it Exciting

Munch them raw, spread almond butter on bread, or add some flakes to your salads, oats, yogurt and soups.

How much? A handful a day is all you need! 

Also Read : Could Almonds Help You Combat Heart Problems? Doctors Answer

3. Salmon to Keep Inflammation in Check

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Inflammation in the body is a big reason for heart disease. Salmon is excellent for hearts health because it contains high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D content.

Why Salmon?

The omega 3 in it keeps inflammation in check.

Make it Exciting

Have this for dinner - place salmon in a foil pouch. Add a sprinkle of herbs, a dash of pepper and a touch of white wine. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

How much? Two to three times a week is a good idea.

Also Read : Thanks For All the Fish! Here’s the 101 on Calories (Good and Bad)

4. Garlic to Prevent and Remove Blood Clots

(Photo: Pixabay)

Garlic contains sulphide compounds which not just reduce cholesterol, but also prevent and remove clots, which are a big risk factor for heart attacks.

Why Garlic?

It helps clear out clogged arteries because it widens blood vessels and encourages good circulation.

Make it Exciting

Marinate pressed garlic in olive oil and use this flavoured oil in dressings or purée fresh garlic, beans, olive oil and lemon juice to make a quick and easy dip. Or simply gulp down two crushed pods every morning.

How much? Two cloves a day are good enough.

Also Read : 11 Kitchen Must-Haves That Will Help Get Your Health Hacks Right

5. Dark Chocolate to Control High Blood Pressure

(Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack and even make the heart abnormally large and less efficient, eventually leading to heart failure. Dark chocolate helps protect the heart against high blood pressure.

Why Dark Chocolate?

“Dark chocolate are filled with antioxidants which keep the heart healthy and help protect against high blood pressure. So they are good in moderation,” explains Dr Jaiswal.

Make it Exciting

Have a cup of hot cocoa everyday to add the benefits of milk too.

How much? Two to three times a week.

Also Read : Here’s How You Can Eat Chocolate and Lose Weight

6. Spinach to Lower Homocysteine Levels in Blood

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Homocysteine rivals elevated blood cholesterol as a major risk factor for heart disease as high levels damage the blood vessels and pro-mote blood clotting. Spinach can help keep its levels down.

Why Spinach?

Folate is needed for the recycling of homocysteine, and spinach is a very good vegetarian source of folate.

Make it Exciting

Add fresh chopped spinach as a layer to your omelette. Also add boiled spinach to rice - tastes fabulous.

How much? Two to three times a week.

(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)

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