According to the Indian Heart Association, heart diseases strike Indians at an earlier age than other demographics, usually without any warning. Few studies have even found that we suffer from cardiovascular conditions at least 10 years before people in the West.
Keeping this in mind, it becomes extremely important to take care of our hearts, especially as seniors. While heart issues can affect people of any age, the risk of cardiovascular disease rises as you get older. In fact, the risk of heart diseases in people aged 60–79 years sits at a whopping 75%, almost double the risk for people between the ages of 40 and 59.
While age has a role to play, factors such as genetics, lifestyle, food, alcohol, smoking and conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular conditions.
Eating healthy and avoiding processed food is one of the first and foremost steps of improving your heart health. A heart-healthy diet can help keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check, maintain a healthy weight, and lower cholesterol. Here’s a list of ten foods that you can incorporate into your diet to promote better health.
- Leafy green vegetables
Rich in vitamin K and nitrate, leafy green vegetables can help lower your blood pressure and improve arterial function. In fact, multiple studies show that a higher intake of greens is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are well known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Almonds and walnuts
Packed with omega-3s, a handful of walnuts and almonds can also help boost your protein levels and lower your cholesterol. These nuts are also a great source of fibre and micronutrients like magnesium, copper, calcium and heart-favourable monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Tart and sweet, berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants, which protect your body from the oxidative stress and inflammation that usually contributes to the development of heart conditions. So, while they have some amounts of sugar, berries can be a very satisfying heart-healthy snack or dessert.
- Green tea
According to studies, antioxidants in green tea can help your arteries stay flexible longer, preventing plaque build-up. Some studies go to the extent of proving that your blood vessel function can improve in as little as 30 minutes after consuming a cup of green tea.
- Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be great for heart health. Studies suggest that consuming fish regularly can help decrease your triglyceride levels, slow the growth of plaque in your arteries, and even lower blood pressure.
This popular breakfast food is rich in protein and fibre. This means you stay full longer which helps prevent overeating. The soluble fibre found in oatmeal also keeps your cholesterol in check, further lowering your risk for heart disease.
Rich in healthy fats, fibre, and micronutrients, Avocado can help lower your cholesterol, and blood pressure, and ultimately improve your heart health. Eating this fruit twice a week can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease considerably.
Carrots are loaded with carotenes which are known to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. The potassium in carrots helps keep your blood pressure in check.
- Whole grains
Starchy foods such as bread, rice, and pasta are a good source of energy, fibre and B vitamins. When shopping for these, opt for products made of whole grains to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
High in protein and fibre, beans are incredibly healthy for your heart and overall health. They are known to help decrease blood cholesterol levels and keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels in check.
What you eat can influence your overall health, including your heart. Including some of the heart-healthy foods mentioned above can keep can help keep your heart in good shape.
Apart from your diet, make it a point to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine. You can start with short walks on your terrace or neighbourhood park, and work your way up. You could also join a yoga or dance class or indulge in activities such as gardening if that is what interests and excites you.