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The core of a healthy body is a healthy heart, indeed. It's the most important part of the human body, and that's why it's so important to take care of the heart. Its primary role involves pumping blood through the circulatory system to supply oxygen and essential nutrients to all the organs. Scroll down to find out what actually causes heart problems, how to prevent heart diseases and 9 heart-friendly foods.
What Causes Heart Problems?
The heart, a fist-sized organ, is situated slightly on the left side of the chest and is shielded by a protective membrane. The outer wall of the heart is made up of three layers of tissue, and the internal cavity consists of four chambers. The two chambers on the top are the left atrium and right atrium, and their function is to receive blood from the veins. The bottom two chambers are the left ventricle and right ventricle, and their role is to pump blood out of the heart through arteries to the other organs.
Heart problems arise when the arteries start to get clogged by plaque (sticky film of bacteria) building up in the body, which could happen due to numerous reasons including smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
Heart Disease Prevention
It is important to remember that your lifestyle choices and eating habits define your health. A well thought out schedule is therefore necessary to ensure that you eat right, workout regularly, de-stress your mind, and lead an active life. Like they say, prevention is better than cure. The only way to keep heart disease at bay, is by putting in some effort.
1. Get Active
A sedentary lifestyle, which is so common among the urban population today, is the heart's worst enemy. The key is to compulsorily take a little time out to exercise. Even 30 minutes of brisk walking can work wonders for your health. Alternatively, you can sign up for different activities such as kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, swimming, Zumba, etc. so that it doesn't get monotonous.
2. Quit Smoking
Tobacco and the chemicals it contains are extremely harmful for your health. The carbon monoxide released from it tends to replace the oxygen in the blood, which causes strain on your heart, making it work harder. The chemicals can also damage your blood and heart vessels.
3. Check Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels cause the formation of plaque in the arteries, thereby clogging the pulmonary arteries. This leads to a condition called atherosclerosis, which can make it more difficult for blood to flow through the heart and body. So keep your cholesterol levels in check.
4. Don't Stress
Many researchers have found that high stress levels can increase the risk of a stroke. Psychological characteristics are equally important, so take adequate rest, meditate and relax. After all, a healthy mind equals a healthy body.
5. Watch Your Weight
Obesity could also lead to heart disease, which is why it is important to watch your weight. As much as you may be terrified of the weighing machine, there is no better time than the present to face the truth and do something about it.
6. Get a Medical Check-Up
A regular check-up will help you stay up-to-date with your health condition and could prevent the onset of various illnesses. It is not without reason that the doctors advise you to get an annual body check-up done, particularly for those above the age of 30.
7. Eat Right
It all boils down to the kind of diet you follow. Avoid sugar, trans fats, fried and greasy foods, spices, etc. which will take a toll on your body, and switch to heart healthy foods instead.
Heart Friendly Foods
1. Fruits - Pomegranate, banana, apple, berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants, tannins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamins and are said to be good for heart health.
2. Vegetables - Stock up on beans, okra and eggplant as they are high in fiber and known to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
3. Whole grains - Oatmeal, barley and millets provide your body with the required energy and promote heart health.
4. Yoghurt - Yoghurt is enriched with probiotics, which promote the growth of good bacteria in the body, hence improving digestion, boosting immunity, and promoting heart health.
5. Fish - Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which work wonders to promote a healthy heart.
6. Nuts - Don't go by their size! Nuts are loaded with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So the next time you feel hunger pangs coming your way, eat a handful of pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. Note: Do not over indulge.
7. Chocolate - Research suggests that dark chocolate actually promotes heart health. Chocolate is rich in flavanols that help in maintaining healthy blood vessels and reducing risk of high blood pressure.
8. Green tea - Green tea is rich in antioxidants and helps in burning fat and promotes overall health. If we drink green tea at least once a day, we can reduce the risk of heart ailments.
9. Soy - All the variants (beans, tofu, milk, etc.) are known to promote heart health as they lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. They also contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
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