Medical Experts today know more about the impact of diet on heart disease than ever before. Now they know that some components in the food help in reducing the risk of heart disease. These components are found in grains, vegetables and fruits. They are useful and good for the heart, low in calories, high in soluble fibre and decrease blood cholesterol levels.
Following are the foods good for the heart-
Cereals: Whole grain cereals for example, rice, maize, wheat etc. are great in dietry fibre and good for the heart. They bring down blood cholesterol. cereals are low in fat and high in carbohydrates and proteins. All whole grains and whole grain products have an inherent flavour and advantages that are missing from refined grains.
Though grains differ in size, they all have kernels with similar structure. A kernel of grain has three sections: the bran, which is the external protective covering of the kernel and is a great source of vitamins and fibre; the endosperm which makes up the biggest part of the kernel and is a good source of proteins and starch; and the germ, which contains proteins, fat, B-complex vitamins and minerals like phosphours and iron.
Bran: Bran is the outer covering (the seed coat) of cereal grains. It is lost in the milling process when the grains are polished and refined. Most B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine) reside in bran. Bran is rich in proteins and minerals.
Recently bran has received much attention as a key food in modern living: a rich source of essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. Rice bran, wheat bran and corn bran are rich in insoluble fibres. Oat bran is rich in sticky fibres like mucilage and gum and soluable fibres, which reduce serum cholesterol and blood sugar. It is also an important source of alpha lipoic acid (a micro-nutrient, usually prescribed as a supplement) and coenzyme Q10, which are important oxidants.
Research has shown that a bran diet not only reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, but improves the LDL/HDL ratio. A diet rich in bran helps to reduce weight, relieves constipation, reduces serum cholesterol and blood sugar levels. All cereal bran are available in the form of flour, flakes and tablets. Oats are also available as oatmeal and rolled oats.
It must be remembered, however, that bran should be taken with plenty of fluids to prevent irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Brown Rice: Brown rice is rich in protein, minerals and fibre. The bran of this unrefined rice is rich in B-complex vitamins. It is a great source of vitamin-E
Whole Wheat Flour: Flour produced from whole wheat grain has more dietary quality and nutritional value than white refined flours. If not stored properly, it is subject to rapid weakening, which is the reason why white (refined) flour is more popular than whole wheat flour. Whole wheat bread is produced using the whole wheat flour.
Legumes and Pulses: Legumes and pulses are a rich source of proteins, B-vitamins except B12 and minerals like Iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They are low in fat and a good alternative to meat for vegetarians. Although legumes and pulses do not contain all essential amino acids, their combination with whole cereal grains and vegetables increases the nutritional value of their protein content. Their fibre content helps in reduces blood sugar and blood cholesterol and prevents Diabetes. It also help to prevent and control Constipation.
Sprouts: Sprouts are germinated seeds. Legumes should be sprouted to increase their nutritive value. Sprouted legumes are low in calories and a good source of proteins, fibre, minerals and vitamins.
Soya: Soya beans are a great source of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. According to studies, they are not only an anti-cancer food, but they also protect against cardiovascular illness. Soya protein lessens the total and bad LDL cholesterol by as much as 15 to 20 percent; it expands HDL cholesterol levels and prevents the formation of plaque in the arteries. It also helps to bring down elevated triglyceride levels. It has been found that the Omega-3 essential fatty acids present in soya beans improve fat metabolism and cause weight loss.
With it antioxidant and anticoagulant properties, the isoflavone genistein in soya beans helps to prevent the formation of blood clots
Nuts: Though nuts are high in calories and fats, heart patients can take moderate amounts of walnuts and Italian chestnuts. The former is the only plant food that provides omega-3 fatty acid, found in fish.
Unsalted Italian chestnuts are lower in fat, protein and calories than almonds, cashew and pistachios. Unlike other nuts, Italian chestnuts are high in complex carbohydrates in the form of starch and fibre. They are best eaten boiled to remove the bitter taste.
Oatmeal: This refers to the commercial ‘rolled’ oats from which free flour has been removed. The oats are not degerminated. Oatmeal and rolled oats should not be overcooked. Avoid buying oats which do not smell or taste good due to oxidation and rancidity of the germ oil and other components, which accelerate deterioration of the flavour after the cereals has been crushed
Turmeric: A recent experimental study revealed that turmeric reduced cholesterol in animals which had earlier been fed on a high cholesterol diet.
Garlic: It has been observed that the daily intake of garlic reduces LDL. cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. Garlic also retards blood clotting resulting from high fat diet. it inhibits the blood from becoming sticky thus preventing thrombosis. it also decreases blood sugar a helps maintain diabetes, lowers high blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and helps the blood circulate more freely.
The beneficial effects are due to its sulphur compounds and essential oils, which have antioxidant properties. Cooking does not decrease its beneficial effects. it is advisable to eat at least 10gm raw garlic a day to protect the body from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Flax Seeds: These are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acid. they are useful in treating blood pressure, angina and in lowering cholesterol levels
Curd: Curd, or yogurt, is fermented milk and is nature’s way of making food more easily digestive and palatable. It should be prepared from low fat cow milk or skimmed milk. Curd neutralizes the excess acid in the stomach and plays a vital role in cleansing out the toxic putrefying matter from the body. a nutritious food, curd prevents constipation and aids digestion.
Honey: Though honey is a source of calories, it is a great remedy for obesity because it activates the extra fat deposited in the body and puts it into movement, which is then used as energy for normal function.
Honey also acts as a mild cathartic and prevents constipation. It helps in digestion and prevents discomfort after meals, if taken regularly.
Honey protects against chest congestion, colds and sore throats. Apart from being the source of sugar and energy, it also contains vitamins B2, B6, C,H and K, and additionally number of follow components. Honey is a great source of ‘ferments’, which are biologically active protective substances valuable for the proper functioning of the heart. Honey should be utilized instead of refined sugar, raw sugar or jiggery in juices and desserts.