The best diet for a healthy heart is a diet low in fatty and sugary foods and rich in fruits and vegetables which are quick foods that require little or no preparation time. They are loaded with important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease fighting antioxidants.
Unsaturated oils (refined oils) help maintain blood cholesterol levels if consumed in recommended quantities. Thus it is advisable to use only 4-5 teaspoons of cooking oil per day and a variety of refined oils should be taken. Select one from each group for your daily cooking purpose. Ratio of both oils should be 1:1. It is advised to use oil from Group A for 15 days and oil from Group B for 15 days or lunch with oil from Group A and dinner with oil from Group B.
Group A: Sunflower / safflower/ corn / soybean
Group B: Mustard / groundnut / olive/ rice bran
High fiber food items like whole cereals [whole wheat flour ( atta ), wheat bran, whole wheat bread, bajra , jowar , oats], whole pulses ( dals with skin, rajmah , chola, kala chana, chowli etc.), leafy vegetables, salad vegetables and whole fruits are recommended.
Good quality protein like egg white, soy, fish chicken and dairy protein (toned/ skimmed cow’s milk and milk products like curds and paneer prepared with cow’s toned milk) is recommended. Oily fish like ravas (salmon), herring, bangda (mackerel), tuna , tarli (oil sardine) and nuts like almonds and walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and found to be beneficial for heart. All these food items are advised in recommended quantities.
It is advised to avoid fatty meats like ham, bacon, yolk of egg, red meat, organ meat, shrimps, lobster, prawns, etc as well as alcohol, aerated drinks, squashes, fruit juices (lack fiber), canned, tinned, processed and preserved foods e.g. tinned fruits, sauces, processed cheese.
Diet for Hypertension
A vegetarian’s diet contains more potassium, complex carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C all of which may have a favourable influence on blood pressure. It can be a great benefit to start lowering your blood pressure naturally.
Calcium: Consume skim / toned milk and milk products (curds and paneer). This milk is low in fat, but very high in Vitamin D and calcium, both of which are known to combat high blood pressure. Calcium can also be found in fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel), nuts, sunflower seeds (unsalted) and green leafy vegetables (beetroot leaves, turnip greens, arbi leaves, chowlai , methi leaves, cauliflower greens, celery leaves, parsley, mint, curry leaves, drum stick leaves and radish leaves). Cereals like ragi (nachni) and whole pulses like kala chana and rajmah , soybean and tofu are also rich in calcium. Spices include hing , ajwain , khas khas , black pepper ( kali mirch ), cumin seeds ( zeera ), coriander ( dhania ), cloves ( laung ) and mustard seeds ( sarson ).
Magnesium: Magnesium rich foods such as pulses and legumes and dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent way to lower blood pressure. Other good sources of magnesium are almonds, walnuts, coriander seeds (dhania ), cumin seeds ( zeera ), ginger, turmeric, plums and mango figs, whole grains, soy products, broccoli, oysters and mackerel. Magnesium has the effect of relaxing the blood vessels which allows the blood to flow easier.
Potassium: Restricting sodium (salt) intake to lower blood pressure appears to work better if accompanied by increasing potassium. Pulses and legumes, soybeans and cereals like bajra , jowar , ragi (nachni), whole wheat flour ( atta ) are good sources of potassium. Spices rich in potassium include coriander seeds ( dhania ), cumin seeds ( zeera ) and methi seeds. Vegetables like potato, sweet potato, yam ( suran ), tomatoes, karela , brinjal, drumstick, green papaya and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, sarson ka saag , chowlai and coriander leaves are high in potassium. Potassium rich fruits include sweet lime, apricots, amla, bael, cherries, lemon, mango, muskmelon, watermelon, peaches, plums and seetaphal. Coconut water and vegetable soups are also rich in potassium.
Vitamin C: It seems to expand blood vessels and constricted arteries, consequently helping to lower blood pressure. Vitamin C rich foods include strawberries, lime, sweet lime ( mausambi) , orange, guava ( peru ), amla, radish ( muli ) leaves, fenugreek leaves ( methi ), coriander ( dhania ), cabbage, capsicum, green chillies, cauliflower and bitter gourd ( karela ).
Research also shows that eating foods high in fiber, such as oat bran, fruits, and vegetables can significantly reduce high blood pressure, and even improve blood pressure in healthy individuals. Omega-3 fats, typically found in oily fish, garlic and flax seeds are known to have a lowering effect on blood pressure.
Avoid foods like pickles, papads and salted chutneys, biscuits and namkeens, all sauces and soy sauce, cheese, salted butter, margarine, mayonnaise, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ajinomoto, breads, cakes, pastries, cornflakes, salted chips, nuts, popcorns, bacon, ham, sausages, malted beverages, boost, bournvita, preserved foods and canned foods. By Swati Bhushan, The Times of India