World Heart Day: Eat, workout for a strong heart

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World Heart Day: Eat, workout for a strong heart

On World Heart Day, say yes to good eating habits and exercise. Have low fat milk, make your plate colourful by opting for different coloured vegetables and fruits and much more, says an expert.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Sun 29 Sep 2013, 9:57 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:47 PM

Sonal Raval, nutritionist at Snap Fitness India, shares dietary and health tips to help people have a healthy heart:

Eat a variety of food items, but not in excess: Different coloured vegetables and fruits, pulses and legumes, low fat dairy products are some of the ways to prevent your food from becoming boring.

Check your weight: Overweight can be the reason behind high blood pressure or disease like diabetes. To avoid such problems, it is best to keep a check on your weight. Eat slowly and take smaller portion, opt for low calories, but rich in nutrients food.

Keep away from food rich in fat: Use skimmed or low fat milk and milk products. Bake, roast or boil rather than frying.

Eat food with adequate fiber: Fruits and vegetables like carrot, cucumber and apple have skin. They should be consumed along with it.

Avoid sugar in excess: White sugar, soft drinks, candies, chocolates, cakes and cookies should be avoided. Don’t eat sweets between meals.

Sodium should be taken in less quantity: Use small amount of salt to prepare dish, try more natural ways to add flavour to food items. Go with spices, lemon juice, tomatoes and curds, don’t munch chips and fried foods constantly.

Don’t encourage exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups. Such exercises involve straining muscles against other muscles or an immovable object.

Don’t exercise outdoors when the temperature becomes extreme. High humidity may cause you to tire more quickly; extreme temperatures can make breathing difficult, and cause chest pain. Indoor activities such as mall walking are better.

Exercise in hilly areas is a big no. If you are located in such places then slow down when climbing up the hill.

If your exercise programme has been interrupted for a few days due to illness, vacation, or any other reason, start with a reduced level of activity.

Drink green tea for healthy heart

Most of us begin our day with a cup of tea and an expert suggests replacing the commonly consumed black tea with green tea.

Anil Bansal, chief cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon, shares the benefits of green tea for the heart

  • The antioxidants in green tea help to burn fat. The fat accumulation leads to blockage of heart. If we drink green tea at least once a day we can reduce the risk of heart ailments.
  • It is also recommended for those who have suffered from heart ailment as green tea can make the heart strong.
  • This type of tea increases the good cholesterol and reduces the bad cholestrol in one’s body.

In addition to these, do the following to keep the heart pumping strongly:

  • Ask your doctor for a cholesterol blood test
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise
  • Quit smoking
  • Cut down on carbohydrates
  • Add fibre to your diet.

Clear myths to ensure a healthy heart

The source of information, or misinformation, can be anything - a neighbour, a commercial, something you had read “a long time back” - but over time, it often becomes something we staunchly believe in.

Cardiologists say that in the process of treatment of many of their patients, they have to battle myths, some more common than others, which, if cleared, can go a long way in ensuring a healthy heart and a healthy future.

Among some of the most common myths related to heart care, according to renowned cardiologist Ashok Seth, is that all kinds of exercise is good for the cardiovascular system.

Tips for a healthy heart

  • Get active. Regular brisk walking for 30-45 minutes, or moderate exercise every day helps your heart and overall well-being
  • Watch what’s on your plate. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits, wholegrain bread and rice, and look out for food with high trans-fatty acid. Junk the junk food
  • Avoid smoking
  • Monitor your alcohol intake
  • Learn to manage your stress. An eminent cardiologist very pragmatically said that it’s not possible not to get stressed, but managing it you can. He relies on music

“A 45-minute brisk walk, or aerobic exercise is good for your heart. But weightlifting and gym exercises are not necessarily good for your cardiovascular health,” Seth told IANS.It’s also a misconception that women are less prone to cardiovascular ailments.

“Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death in women, six times more than breast cancer,” Seth said. “But traditionally it’s seen that in most Indian families this doesn’t appear as a concern vis-a-vis a woman’s health. If the man has a slight discomfort, they rush to the hospital, but the women, maybe because they have a high tolerance level, simply ignore any such discomfort”.

“Even while going for health check-ups, a mammogram or a pap smear test is listed (to detect cancer), but not a heart check-up, which is very necessary,” he added.

Agreed K.K. Talwar, cardiologist at Delhi’s Max hospital. “Although women have the protection cover of the estrogen hormone, lifestyle habits like smoking, unhealthy eating habits and contraceptive pills make them prone (to heart ailments). And after menopause, the risk increases,” Talwar said.

That the young cannot be affected by heart ailments is another myth, Talwar says.

“It’s no longer true that only those in their 50s and 60s can have cardiovascular problems. Even those in their 30s are coming with such problems these days. In fact, because of lifestyle habits like junk food, alcohol consumption and smoking, plus stress, they are prone to acute heart attacks that can be fatal,” he said.

According to Talwar, about 20 percent of heart attack patients in Max hospital are in the 30-40 age group. In the West this number is 5 to 10 percent lower because South Asians are more prone to cardiovascular problems at a younger age than their Western counterparts. “Five to seven percent of those who come for angiography are below the age of 35,” Talwar said.

It’s not necessary that heart pain, indicating emergency, will be on the left side of the chest, Sunita Choudhury, another cardiologist, emphasised. “It may also be in the right arm, upper abdomen, and usually in the left arm,” she said.

Much against TV and print commercials promoting a particular kind or brand of oil as being good for the heart, doctors say that such information should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“Trans-fatty acid is bad for the heart, and one should look out for food containing that. Other than that, there is no truth that only a particular kind of oil is good, like the trend is of olive oil. Even mustard oil is good,” Talwar said. But even as the Mustard Research and Promotion Consortium says that mustard oil can prevent coronary artery disease, many doctors say that it’s best to keep changing one’s brand or kind of oil every few months.

Nuts, a rich source of oil, are also not at all bad. “Almonds and walnuts are good for the heart, and one should have 8 to 10 pieces of almond, soaked in water, every day,” Seth said. But don’t go overboard - fried almonds are a big no. As doctors say, it’s often a thin line separating information and misinformation.

Vitamin B supplements reduce heart attack risk

Shedding fresh light on the link between heart attacks and vitamin B supplements, researchers have found such supplements lower the risk of strokes to a considerable extent.

New evidence suggests that taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke. The research appears in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack,” said author Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University, China. “Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events.”

Scientists analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials with a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared B vitamin use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin.

Participants were then observed for six months. There were 2,471 strokes throughout the studies, all of which showed some benefit of taking vitamin B, reports Science Daily.

Vitamin B lowered the risk of stroke in the studies overall by seven percent. However, taking supplements did not appear to affect the severity of strokes or risk of death from stroke.

Folic acid, a supplemental form of folate (vitamin B9), which is often found in fortified cereals, appeared to reduce the effect of vitamin B.

Cook blueberry dishes for healthy heart

Blueberry is known for its antioxidant properties, and that it helps to prevent heart diseases. It’s time to include some amount of it in your diet.

Gateway Hotels share a few active food recipes made out of blueberry:

Blueberry Smoothie


  • Fresh blueberry: 100 gram
  • Yogurt: 150 gram
  • Honey: 50ml
  • Fresh orange juice: 30ml


Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve.

Blueberry Tart


  • Butter: 85 gram
  • Sugar: 175 gram
  • Ground almonds: 175 gram
  • Eggs: Two
  • Blueberries : 250 gram
  • Vanilla: Few drops
  • Tart: Ready made tart shells


  • Heat oven to 190 degree Celsius. Beat butter and sugar together till it turns light and fluffy. Fold the ground almonds, beaten egg and vanilla essence into the above butter and sugar.
  • Add half of blueberries into the mixture and spoon into the tart shell. Use the remaining blueberries on top of the mixture and press them in lightly.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the tart base is crisp and brown in colour, and the filling is cooked.
  • Cool the tart for 10 minutes. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

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