What's right and what's not if you wish to keep your heart healthy

What's right and what's not if you wish to keep your heart healthy


Shrey Srivastava

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Keeping your heart healthy is crucial for overall well-being and longevity. While there are various factors that contribute to heart health, including lifestyle choices and genetics, incorporating the right oils, managing salt intake, and engaging in regular exercise can significantly contribute to maintaining a healthy heart.

However, in the pursuit of a healthy heart, people often find themselves bombarded with conflicting information, such as what should they opt for -- refined oils, ghee, or butter or what type of exercises are truly beneficial for their cardiovascular health?

"When it comes to oils, many have touted the benefits of switching to refined oils. However, emerging research suggests that the age-old tradition of using ghee or butter might not be as harmful as once believed. These natural fats, consumed in moderation, can offer vital nutrients that support heart health," Dr Haresh G. Mehta, Consultant-Interventional Cardiologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim-A Fortis Associate told IANS.

While refined oil is the best, experts suggest people should choose oils that are MUFA-rich and high in omega-3 fatty acids like rice bran oil, canola oil, and olive oil.

Moreover, to keep the heart healthy people are advised to eat heart-friendly food which is high in complex carbs, with healthy proteins & fats, such as millet, oats, brown rice, lentils, eggs, lean meats like chicken, fish, a lot of nuts and seeds as they are high on omega 3 fatty acids.

However, for a healthy heart, it is advised to reduce the intake of fried foods, simple sugars, and high-calorie sweetened beverages.

The debate over which type of salt to use has gotten a lot of attention. 

"While many advocate for low-sodium options, recent studies suggest that a moderate intake of iodized or sea salt may offer essential trace minerals that are beneficial for cardiovascular well-being. The key lies in moderation and avoiding excessive salt consumption, regardless of the type," Mehta said.

According to doctors, the hidden sources of salt which cause major concern are baking soda, pickles, papads, and packaged foods as they are very high in sodium.

As for exercises, the best approach involves a combination of cardiovascular workouts and strength training. 

"Exercise is key in the management of heart disease, one should have an active lifestyle. Incorporate both forms of exercise which are aerobic and anaerobic forms, like walking, yoga, swimming, cycling etc," Ritika Samaddar, Chief Dietitian, Max Healthcare, told IANS.

Engaging in activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling improves heart function and boosts overall fitness. 

Further, Samaddar advised that people should avoid very heavy and strenuous exercise, especially if one has a history of cardiac issues. 

About 30-45 mins of exercise daily is recommended by experts, plus doing meditation or yoga is also recommended as it helps to reduce stress -- a major causative factor for heart disease.

According to doctors, the quest for a healthy heart demands a nuanced understanding of the choices people make. 

While refined oils, ghee, butter, different salts, and exercises can all play an essential role -- moderation, informed decisions, and professional guidance remain the key pillars of maintaining cardiovascular well-being. 

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