Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair



Healthy meals;

Ready to step up to a diet rich in the healthy nutrients your heart craves?
  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week.
  • Limit how much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol you eat. Only 30% of your daily calories should come from fat, with very little of that from saturated fats.
  • Select fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
  • Limit your salt intake.
One way to make sure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and low in saturated fats, is to divide your plate at each meal: half vegetables, 1/4 high-quality protein (like legumes -- terrific sources of protein and great for a healthy heart!), and 1/4 for fish or a very lean meat.
And remember, you should get your nutrients from foods themselves, the antioxidants and other heart-healthy goodies found in foods like blueberries, beans, and artichokes don't pack the same punch when they're not in food form.
And avoid fad diets, "Almost every one may result in short-term weight loss but leave you weighing even more a year later, and preventing weight gain is one of the best ways to prevent developing heart disease risk factors."


Follow Moderate Exercise Routine;

It's easy to get discouraged about exercise: It's hard to fit into a busy lifestyle. The people at the gym look like they spend hours there. You haven't run a mile since college. But no excuses -- like eating right, getting the exercise your heart needs is easier than it looks.
If you're not overweight, all you need to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more times a week. And you don't have to do it all at once -- 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening are just fine.Getting that amount of exercise has substantial benefits for your heart. Just how much is hard to quantify, but research shows that being physically inactive is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease.

And exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. That's because regular, moderate exercise also helps:

  • Control blood pressure
  • Prevent diabetes
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels

If you need to lose weight, it's going to take a little more effort. For weight management, we want low to moderate intensity activities for 60 minutes per day,. "The only way to really lose weight is to decrease calories in and increase calories out, and what works best is a modest approach to both. If you just reduce your caloric intake, for example, your body slows its metabolism to compensate."
Exactly what kind of exercise you do is less important than simply doing it in the first place. One way to make sure you don't skip it: Structure family time around physical activity.
For example,after dinner family walk.


 Risk Factors-Know them and stay away;

A heart-healthy lifestyle is about more than just diet and exercise. The single most dangerous thing you can do to your heart is to smoke. Just by itself, cigarette smoking increases your risk of heart disease, but it also worsens other factors that contribute to heart disease:
  • It increases blood pressure
  • It increases the tendency of blood to clot
  • It decreases levels of HDL -- the good cholesterol
If you smoke a pack a day, you have more than twice the risk of a heart attack than someone who doesn't smoke.
"Every cigarette you cut back matters,". "The goal is always complete cessation, but even eliminating one cigarette a day can make a difference. Start there, and then try to keep going until you've quit altogether."
A big plus: It doesn't take long for your body -- and your heart in particular -- to reap the health benefits of quitting. Twenty minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Two weeks to three months later, your circulation and lung function improve. Just one year after quitting, your excess risk of coronary heart disease is just half that of a smoker's.

You may have other risk factors for heart disease that are not on your radar like anxiety, anger, depression, and social isolation "silent epidemics" that are very prevalent, commonly missed, and potentially dangerous for your heart.

"Depression, for example, is very common, and it's very strongly linked to heart disease,". "If you or someone you love is depressed or harboring a lot of anger, or seems isolated, encourage them to seek help. There are many methods to help you deal with these risk factors."


Family history-Extra careful;

There are some risk factors for heart disease that you can't control, and family history is one of them. If a close relative, like a mother, father, sister, or brother had a heart attack or died of heart disease -- especially at a young age -- then the health of your heart may be at greater risk as well.
"Families can share a predisposition to heart disease both because they have shared genes and a shared lifestyle," . You get half your genes from mom and half your genes from dad -- but you probably also get your eating and exercise habits from them, too.
"If you have a family history of heart disease, it's important that you have yourself checked out,".
You may find, for example, that you have high cholesterol and it needs to be managed with medication. On the flip side, you may be greatly reassured to find out that Dad's heart attack probably had to do with smoking and being overweight, and you don't share those risk factors. Either way, you can do something about your risk: genetics is not destiny.
The most important thing to understand about a healthy heart is that many of the factors that put you at risk for disease lie within your power to control.
"Even if you're not at high risk now, your most important goal should be to prevent yourself from developing increased risk,". "You can do that through a heart-healthy lifestyle."


1. Hors d'oeuvres anyone? Among the most heart healthy starters are raw vegetables, particularly broccoli and cauliflower because of their high fiber content. Among the most heart healthy dips are hummus, which contains good monounsaturated fats.

2. Carbs beget carbs. Eating simple carbohydrates doesn't make us feel as full as eating fat, so if you are overzealous in avoiding fats you may overindulge in total calories. When snacking, stick with carbs that contain vitamins and fiber (e.g., apples) rather than those without nutritional value (e.g., pretzels). Consider healthy fat sources including avocados, walnuts and almonds.

3. Choose fish over red meat. Include fish in your menus. Cold-water fish contain protective omega- 3s, which have been shown to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. Among your best choices are wild salmon, sardines and herring (without the cream sauce). Whatever meat you choose, have the gravy or sauce served on the side and limit table salt.

4. Color is everything. The more colorful the vegetable, the more heart-protective antioxidants contained within. Steaming is better than using the microwave for preserving nutrients. However, over-steaming or boiling will remove many of these heart healthy elements

5. Hold the doughnuts or bagel. The average doughnut/bagel will cost you more than 200 calories, even before the dousing of an additional 50-100 calories of butter or cream cheese. If you like lox, keep in mind that about 75% of the protective omega-3 fats in salmon are lost when converted into lox by the smoking process.

6. I'll drink to that. Red wine and dark beer contain more protective antioxidants or flavonoids than other alcoholic beverages. You can get maximum heart protection with up to 1 ounce of alcohol daily, the equivalent of two, 4 ounce glasses of wine, a 12 ounce bottle of beer, or 2 shots of spirits.

7. Don't  starve. You'll overindulge. Eating one meal a day slows down the rate at which we burn calories. That is especially important to keep in mind as we age, because our metabolic requirements are reduced by an average of 5 calories daily. Therefore, eat frequently throughout the day but in small to moderate quantities.

8. You can have your chocolate and eat it too! That is, if it's dark. Pure dark chocolate contains a very high amount of catechins (a heart healthy antioxidant). Enjoy it with black grapes and wash it down with a beverage containing natural cocoa powder or tea, additional excellent sources of these heart healthy compounds.

9. Get in your exercise. Try to work off those extra calories. While aerobic activity has been emphasized for maintaining cardiovascular health, recent studies show that walking is also quite effective. One fun way to keep track of your daily activity is to purchase a pedometer. There are about 2,000 steps per mile. Take 6,000-10,000 steps daily to maintain heart health.

10. Have a hearty laugh. Very few things in life are better than a good laugh and it turns out that laughing heartily is good for the heart. One recent study even demonstrated that laughing during mealtime reduces the surge in blood sugar levels. May you enjoy the lighter side of life with family and friends .

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