Improve Your Heart Health with These Super Foods

Heart health is no longer a matter of concern for the elderly only. Even in their early twenties, men and women suffer from health ailments that can be fatal. According to a senior consultant cardiologist at a well-known hospital, India is currently witnessing around two million heart attacks a year with a majority of the victims being the youngsters. One person dies every 33 seconds because of a heart attack!

While some heart conditions that cannot be prevented, most concerns can be avoided. With these superfoods in your daily diet, curbing a heart attack will get easier.

Superfoods

Although superfoods have been around for a long time, the health benefits have come to light only recently. Superfoods are super rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are beneficial for one’s health and can prevent terminal illnesses. Here are some of the superfoods you may love or hate, but can tremendously help in improving your heart health!

Walnuts

Walnuts top the nut list for heart-healthy superfoods. The distinct ‘brain’ shaped nut is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain higher quality antioxidants that fight free radicals responsible for heart diseases. Craving for a sugary snack? Snack on a handful of walnuts every day. The goodness they give you is more than your daily portion of fruits and vegetables, combined!

Salmon

Salmon is the star on the heart superfood list. This oily fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and super rich in proteins, Vitamins B and D. Regular consumption of Salmon lowers triglycerides by 50%. Triglycerides is the bad fat that increases the cholesterol in your body. This Omega-3 rich fish has proven to lower the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat). It also reduces the mortality rate of those with congestive heart conditions.

Oranges

An orange a day keeps your arteries healthy! This citrus fruit is high in flavonoids that help lower heart conditions caused by clots. Vitamin C present in oranges is linked with lower heart diseases. Oranges are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and beta-carotene too. Several studies have shown that the chemicals present in oranges reduce blood cholesterol levels by 20-25%. Beware of the hidden sugars in the packaged orange juices, though.

Garlic

Garlic is a blood thinner. Garlic makes the blood consistency such that it easily passes through blood vessels. Garlic is high in bioflavonoids and contains sulfur which gives protection from calcium deposits and reduces the size of arterial plaque. It promotes adequate blood circulation. Regular consumption of garlic in your diet lowers the risk of blood stagnation and passage blockages by unhealthy fats.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has got a plenty of attention for being good for the heart and here is why. The cocoa bean is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. This is the perfect recipe for a healthy heart. Flavanol is the main flavonoid present in chocolate. It helps lower the blood pressure and improve the blood flow to the brain and heart. It also enables blood to clot by making the blood platelets less sticky.

Kale

Kale has risen to fame over the last couple of years. Kale is a nutrient-packed superfood. It has minerals, vitamins, and much more. It even has bile acid sequestrants which help lower the cholesterol levels. A study showed that consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased the level of ‘good’ cholesterol. Kale is also known to be one the world’s best sources of Vitamin K.

Oatmeal

Another superfood for your heart is the humble oatmeal. It is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It is rich in fiber which is good for the digestive tract. This superfood can lower the levels of bad cholesterol and keep your arteries clear. Oatmeal helps curb type 2 diabetes and helps in weight loss as well.

Avocados

Avocados are nutrient packed and good for your heart. They have good fats and are free from sodium and cholesterol. This superfood cuts down your saturated fat intake without compromising on calories. Just eating healthy fats is not enough. Ensure that you are exercising to burn off the calories consumed too!

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the secret to the healthy hearts of the Mediterranean folks. It prevents the formation of blood clots and excess blood coagulation. It raises the level of good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

Acai Berries

Known as the miracle berry, this berry is full of antioxidants and vitamins. Acai berries are high in flavonoids that prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. They increase the capillary strength, prevent inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.

Of course, simply adding such superfoods in your diet won’t keep you disease-proof. You also need to follow a healthy routine, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly.

Did we miss a super food? Comment here and let us know.

The Dangers of Self-Medication

Nowadays, everyone feels like they have the qualities of a doctor. And hence, they often resort to self-medication. ‘Bad stomach? I know the pill for it!’ ‘Pain in the abdomen? It’s probably just acidity!’ While health issues like cough, cold, and fever can be treated at home, at times, the health issue at hand may be much bigger for which, visiting a doctor is an absolute must. The doctor is the only one who can give you a complete diagnosis of your situation and provide you with guidance regarding the steps you can take going forward, to enhance the healing process.

Self-medication is harmful due to a number of reasons. A study by Psychology Today explains that individuals tend to act as their own physicians in an attempt to handle the symptoms of the physical or mental health concern involved with it. A lot of times they want to hide their condition since going to the doctor may come across as a sign of weakness. Sometimes, they are scared or embarrassed, and at times, they simply want to avoid the expenses of getting the diagnosis of the problem from a professional. Truth is, self-medication can ruin a person’s life, the lives of others around him/her and can end up making the original situation much worse than it was.

Some of the important dangers of self-medication are:

Wrong Drug Dosage

When you decide to prescribe drugs for yourself, there is no one to tell you the right dosage for the pills you are using. Even if you have got the drug right, factors such as the dosage of the drug, how it needs to be taken, its composition and its side-effects or reactions, if any, also need to be considered. Ignorance and lack of awareness when it comes to these things can cause serious problems and can also lead to a fatality. According to a study by the non-profit group, Trust for America’s Health, nearly 52% of deaths were related to prescription drug overdoses where the patients did not even know that they have taken an overdose.

Side-effects

Many medicines tend to have side effects on your body. When you go to a physician, he gives you appropriate drugs to counter those effects and stabilize your body. He prescribes medicines keeping in mind your body type, your diet, your daily routine, etc. Self-medication, on the other hand, can lead to severe side effects such as allergic reactions, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Wrong Diagnosis

One of the major things that can go wrong when you resort to self-medication is the wrong diagnosis of the disease at hand. You may be suffering from some specific symptoms and will link those to a disease that you know of. You will end up taking the medicines for it but that probably will not work. This can complicate simple situations and also make it difficult for the doctor to correctly diagnose and treat your situation at later stages.

Self-medication for Pregnant Women

This one could probably be the most dangerous kind of self-medication. Wrong moves or intake of unfamiliar drugs could cause birth defects and congenital anomalies in the child. What the mother consumes during the pregnancy stage directly affects the child so it is very important that they find out all the information about the particular drug that they are consuming. Visiting a physician and taking his recommendations for the medicines would be the best way to go about it.

Addiction to the Wrong Drug

A lot of times, there are cases wherein a patient is taking a wrong drug and gets addicted to it. This is especially true in the case of medical conditions such as depression where the doses of the drug are very high and cause severe effects. If you are following self-medication, there is no one who can reassess the prescription for you. Strong pills and their overdose can lead to severe problems or even death. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,175 people died in 2012 due to an unintentional drug overdose.

Masking the Symptoms of a Serious Condition

The route of self-medication may also cause the patients to overlook the symptoms of a serious condition that they may be suffering from. For example, a patient may be suffering from a condition such as pneumonia but may pass it off as a case of the flu. At times, people tend to take this route to save themselves the embarrassment of being the victim of a serious disease. However, this is very harmful and the most inappropriate way of dealing with the problem.

Alternately, there are times when people tend to adopt the route of telemedicine. A lot of times, this may prove to be fruitful since it reduces the hassle of visiting the doctor in person and thus saves time and money. But where does the credibility come in? With so many portals offering medical advice, there are a lot of cases of spam and frauds. The advising authority may not have the right knowledge or skills to guide you with the best possible treatment. Carelessness and lack of precision from their end could lead to devastating results and also a case of fatality. When you are looking for doctors offering telemedicine, look for the credibility of the doctors and the portals which offer this service.

Don’t take your health very lightly. Always remember, Google is not your doctor – avoid self-medication. Always consult a doctor for the smallest of health issue. After all, the preservation of health is always easier than a cure of the disease.

 

Win the health battle this festive season

It’s that time of the year again when most of us are getting our calendars sorted to bring in the festive season. Kicking off from Navratri and ending at Diwali with Eid, Durga Puja, Dusshera and often continuing along till Christmas (or maybe even New Year?), for most, this time of the year spells indulgence. Most of us have hit the gym with a vengeance and are following the latest diet with a religious dedication to make sure that we look show-stoppingly great in all our festive finery. And why not? After all this season only comes ones a year, right?

However, for most of us, the much awaited festive season just becomes an extended period where our health goes for a toss, stress levels soar and the battle of the bulge begins yet again. It’s the same story every year, repeating itself with vicious relentlessness. So this year, as you get ready to sort out your wardrobe and ready your social calendar, take a moment and plan how you are going to manage your health. Lucky for you, we have a ready list of simple and smart moves that will ensure that you enjoy to your fullest and don’t compromise your health.

Navigating the food landmine

With all the celebrations comes the food landmine. Sweets loaded with ghee, sugar and dairy and fried and calorie rich foods is what this season seems to be made up off. However, over-indulgence can spell doom for your gut, skin, hair and overall health. Let’s not even talk about what it does to your waistline! However, no one wants to feel deprived during this season so the smartest way to go about it is to follow the principle of ‘eat what you love, leave what you like’ as Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist suggests. Pick only the foods that bring joy to you and leave the rest in the side-line.

Choose your treat day smartly

Yes, the festive season is all about indulgence but that does not validate over–indulgent eating all through the season. Be sensible about your ‘day of indulgence’. That’s right – we said ‘DAY’! Instead of going all-out on all days, choose your one day of indulgence smartly and just let go on that day. The best thing is if you plan to binge you can prep your system beforehand. Eat smaller healthier meals on the days leading up and after to the big party and most importantly, have a small snack before get there. Chances are if you’re not hungry you’ll not hog!

Nix the guilt with the law of diminishing returns

Just like in economics, apply the law of diminishing returns to your diet as well. So while you might want to chomp down on that whole plate of your favourite sweet or savoury treat, remember that the first three bites of your favourite food will satisfy your hunger and emotional delight but with each additional bite your ‘returns’ will diminish. Learn to master this method of eating and you can nix the guilt that comes from over-indulgence.

Choose the ascending order when it comes to calories

This one is simple. When you are at the food table start with the foods that have the lowest calories and then move up the calorie ladder. Chances are, if you start with a simple salad/soup, move to lean proteins and then by the time you’ve reached the gulab jamuns with ice cream all you will need are just a few bits to feel happy and very satisfied!

Avoid holiday food heaven – just because it is festive food, you don’t’ HAVE to eat it

This one is for those who eat festive food because it’s, well, ‘festive’. Get this one rule right – YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT FESTIVE FOOD BECAUSE IT’S FESTIVE FOOD! So if you wouldn’t normally eat balusahi, lapsi, mawa – kachoris or laddoos, don’t feel compelled to do so just because it’s that time of the year when everyone’s eating them.

Balance the booze and the cola

Well, for those who love the bubbly (or any other drink) remember that you consume almost 100 calories a day from alcoholic beverages. The sneakier colas and packaged fruit juices rack up to 250 calories per 12 ounces. While completely avoiding these might not be possible, alternating one drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) with one glass of water, sparkling or still, will help you keep things festive and also under control.

To eat out, work out

Most of us complain that we have no time to exercise. But if you want to remain healthy exercise is essential. Build a ten-minute power workout into your daily routine and managing the festive excess will be a breeze.

Avoid the stress – be it financial or health related

Festive seasons are meant for you to be happy. So consciously make an effort to weed out stress by giving yourself a break when you are feeling overwhelmed with all the action around you. Budget everything – from your shopping list to your food to your health to make sure sneaky stress from these don’t catch up

Finally, remember that the festive season is about connecting with your loved ones. Go to the social gatherings to connect with those who are present and keep your focus on them – not solely on the food table.