What women should eat and drink to protect their heart

There have been dramatic changes in our lifestyle over the course of a decade or two, especially when it comes to the food we eat, the amount of exercise our bodies do, and the level of stress we face in our daily lives. There was even a time when heart diseases like heart attack and stroke were mostly associated with men. However, in recent times the numbers have changed. In fact, according to the 2017 Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) data, coronary heart disease caused 1.54 million deaths, of which 0.62 million were women and 0.92 were men.
Dr. Edwina Raj, MS CDE RD, Head of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Aster CMI Hospital, attributes the increase in heart disease and stroke in women to a variety of dietary and lifestyle changes. Factors such as smoking, uncontrolled blood sugar, early menopause, obesity, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, physical inactivity, increased stress levels, anxiety about a multi-tasking lifestyle, and a history of hysterectomy or hysterectomy are responsible for the increased risk heart problems in women, notes Dr. Raj.

According to the doctor, women should start taking care of their health at an early stage. A gradual decline in estrogen, the savior hormone, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, due to the drastic change in women’s lifestyle, young women also suffer from heart attacks, says the doctor.
“That’s why it’s so important to start a healthy lifestyle and follow a heart-friendly diet to help prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke. Women have always been considered the nutritional guardians of every family, so it’s important to change their approach to health before it’s too late, adds Dr. Raj.

Here are some dietary tips, foods and drinks to avoid as recommended by a nutritionist.

“Follow the Mediterranean Style of Eating”

Dr. Edwina Raj recommends a Mediterranean style of eating that emphasizes the daily intake of adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains such as unpolished rice, millet, quinoa, oats, whole wheat, lentils and beans.

In addition, women can also eat skinless fish and chicken instead of red lamb, beef, pork, etc.

“Add a handful of nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios and oilseeds like chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and incorporate a combination of vegetable oils that are completely cholesterol free for the right balance to provide essential fats daily (oil-free diets are not recommended)” advises the doctor.

Low sodium foods

Consider low-sodium or low-salt foods; check food labels when shopping and limit sodium intake from various sources such as salted foods by adding soda/Chinese salt (monosodium glutamate) when cooking. Limit the consumption of papads, jams, jellies, sauces, flavor enhancers and ketchups. The doctor recommends eating less than one teaspoon of salt a day. In addition, the consumption of trans fats, such as bread, should be limited. Check food labels for the word trans fat, hydrogenated fat and avoid them.

Say NO to refined foods

Limit added sugars, jaggery, sugary drinks, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates such as polished rice, maida, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.

Instead, eat fruits that contain natural sweeteners.

Include reduced-fat milk or plant-based milk daily to keep your bones strong.

Use good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rice bran oil, ginger oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, olives and avocados, which are all great sources of healthy fats for your daily meals.

Foods rich in potassium and other nutrients

According to Dr. Raja, potassium-rich foods help regulate blood pressure and keep heart muscles healthy. Still, include green leafy vegetables, fruits, millet, and nuts in your diet regularly.

In addition, studies have shown the benefits of maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12, other B vitamins, to keep arteries and nerves healthy. However, given that each body is different and unique, the doctor recommends seeing a cardiologist and a registered dietitian for individual advice.

Homemade food and drinks

Here are some recommendations from your doctor regarding meals:

– Millet vegetable dosa with pumpkin seeds and dal chutney

– Steamed sprout, vegetable and sweet potato patties

– Avocado, chia seeds and soy milk smoothie
– Almond flour and rava dosa with tomato, methi sprouts chutney

– Chickpea and oilseed paste with olive oil for chapati/bread rolls or salads

– Baked millet and oatmeal with flaxseed cookies

– Sugar-free papaya and banana smoothie with chia seeds and olive oil

– Fish and spinach stew

– Brown rice, dhal, vegetables and bisibele bhath nuts

– Mixed leaf cutlet and dal

– Wholemeal pancake with egg and bajra with vegetable stew in coconut milk

– Beetroot, carrot, apple, strawberry, avocado, walnut and almond smoothie

– Soaked oatmeal with reduced-fat cottage cheese, mixed oilseeds, fruit and roasted nuts

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