One of the rules for keeping your heart healthy is a good diet - a low sodium, low fat diet, that is rich in antioxidants and heart health nutrients. A smart strategy to keep your heart healthy is to tame the risk factors like high BP, cholesterol, high homocysteine and inflammation. This can be done by consuming specific risk-reducing foods.
On this World Heart Day, let’s pamper our heart and pledge to keep it safe - by eating foods that are good for it.
Make Your Own Granola
Mix 2 cups of rolled oats with 1 cup of dried fruits and seeds and a little brown sugar. Toast for 3-5 minutes in a warm oven, stirring it a couple of times so it doesn’t burn. Leave to cool before storing in an airtight container.
How this works: High cholesterol is big risk factor for heart disease, and oats are an effective cholesterol buster. The soluble fibre in oats helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream, and aids the body to throw it right out of our system.
Roast some almonds for 10 minutes in a preheated oven, stirring halfway. Let them cool until they're just warm (for about 10 minutes). Blend them in a high speed blender until creamy, adding small batches at a time. Keep scraping down the sides as necessary. Add a pinch of cinnamon and a tsp of olive oil while blending to make them creamier.
How this works: Cholesterol is not all bad. In fact, HDL cholesterol helps rid our body of bad cholesterol from the arteries, and stops the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries. Almonds are the perfect tool to help raise our HDL levels, because they are loaded with good fat MUFA, vitamin E, magnesium and folic acid - all good for our heart.
Combine boneless salmon, chopped cucumber, few tbsp of yogurt, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread a thin layer of butter on the cut sides of sandwich buns, and line with lettuce. Fill with salmon mixture. Chill before eating.
How this works: Salmon works wonders for our heart health because it delivers protein and helps keep inflammation in check, which is a big risk factor for heart disease.
Combine crushed garlic, sour cream, ketchup, salt, pepper and mix well. Chill before consuming. Pair it with crackers or apple slices.
How this works: Garlic contains sulphide compounds which not only reduce cholesterol, but also prevent and remove clots, which are a big risk factor for heart attacks.
Combine 1 peeled orange, 1 cup low fat yogurt or milk, ice cubes, and a splash of vanilla in a blender.
How this works: Antioxidant vitamin C in oranges protects the walls of arteries. The folic acid carries artery-clogging homocysteine out of your system.
Spinach Feta Delight
Wilt spinach in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Once wilted, grate in a pinch of nutmeg. Stir in feta cheese and dig in.
How this works: Spinach is high in folate that helps keep the levels of homocysteine down. High homocysteine levels damage blood vessels and promote blood clotting.
(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), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)