Food for a healthy heart

Sushil Dhital


We all have an inseparable life companion, small in size, but of vital importance — the heart. Knowingly or unknowingly we deteriorate this vital organ through our dietary and non-dietary practices. Hypertensions, Atherosclerosis (blockage of arteries) leading to mild to severe heart attack and stroke are common cardiovascular problem that middle-aged people suffer from.


The first way to keep our heart healthy is to maintain control over blood pressure. Hypertension is not a disease but a symptom that some vital organs being troubled. Hypertension symptoms are headaches, dizziness, sleeplessness, and irritability. Heredity and other various hormonal disorders are prone to increase BP, however the underlying factors are obesity, heavy smoking, drinking, tension and sedentary lifestyle.

Atherosclerosis and strokes

It is a condition recognised as the disposition of fatty materials in the arteries. This leads to constriction of arteries, which limits the blood supply in the heart and causes mild to moderate heart attacks.

Dietary measures

There are several controversies regarding dietary recommendations in preventing and controlling cardiac diseases. Several factors lead to a heart disease; elimination of any one factor cannot be considered a remedy. If a diabetic person is associated with over weight, the risk of suffering form cardiac disease is high. Low calorie, low fat, low sodium diet with normal protein is beneficial. However, if a kidney disease is associated with cardiac disease, low protein diets are recommended. Low sodium diets are generally prescribed. Bakery products, cheese, pickles, sauces, etc contain either common salt or baking soda which is unfit for those with a heart disease. Unsalted bread, fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, meat, fish and poultry are low sodium diets favourable for cardiac disease. However, caution should be taken that body sodium is not depleted altering the electrolyte balance.

Saturated fats of animal origin are meat, seafood, whole-milk dairy products, poultry skin and egg yolks. Regardless of high nutritional value of these proteins their consumption should be limited. Fish, though high in protein is very low in saturated fat and can be taken freely. Some plant foods are also high in saturated fats, including coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil. Sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and mustard oil are are regarded as good fat.

Non-dietary measures

Weight control is the first step towards a healthy heart. A good way of reducing weight is to avoid fatty foods and sweets. Instead of dieting, proper diet management is needed for weight reduction. Exercise is very important and goes a long way in keeping us fit and trim. Walking is best for elderly people but steep inclines should be avoided. Mental tension and stress causes an excessive secretion of hormones, which acts upon the nervous system and finally disturbs the heart.