BENGALURU: Institutionalised by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day, celebrated on September 29, puts the need to address the risk of cardiovascular diseases on the global health agenda. The cardiovascular disease penetration in the country calls for immediate action. At the individual level, improving your diet by making heart-healthy food choices and incorporating nuts like almonds into your daily diet can be simple steps toward maintaining a healthier heart.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition compared the effects of eating almonds and muffins (on the measure of cardiovascular risk) over a course of four weeks. Both diet groups incorporated the respective item into a standard, heart-healthy diet plan. The study found that participants who ate almonds significantly improved certain factors associated with heart disease risk. Researchers estimated that for every 30 grams (approximately one serving) of almonds consumed daily, the participants’ estimated 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) risk score was reduced by 3.5 per cent.
It is necessary to follow a balanced diet in order to maintain a healthy heart. Avoiding unhealthy snacks and fried foods, in addition to developing smart snacking habits, is highly recommended. Almonds are a healthy alternative for those unwholesome snacks. Since these nuts are tasty and crunchy, they also satisfy the sensory cravings while adding important nutrients like vitamin E, protein and riboflavin to your diet.
In fact, another study has found that eating a diet with roughly 20 per cent of calories from almonds significantly reduces total and LDL cholesterol while improving serum levels of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), an important antioxidant.
A great start to counter cardiovascular diseases would be choosing a lifestyle that is easy on our hearts. Here are a few rules to follow for a healthy heart:
Rule No 1: Step it up!
Exercise is crucial to maintain a healthy heart. Regular exercise along with other activities like walking, cycling or playing your favourite sport will go a long way. You may be busy with your daily chores, but the little things matter. For example, take the stairs, not the lift. Walk with your friends/colleagues while sipping tea, don’t sit at the coffee shop.
Rule No 2: Diet check
Keeping a check of eating habits and following a balanced diet can help prevent heart diseases. Avoid diets high in saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt. Replace unwholesome snacks with heart-healthy almonds.
Rule No 3: Be ready to go smoke-free
Globally, 10 per cent of all cardiovascular deaths are attributable to tobacco use. Among non-smokers, especially women, second-hand smoke exposure substantially increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
So this World Heart Day, take these little steps that will go a long way in protecting your heart.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, a city-based nutritionist