A list of the best foods to prevent a heart attack, myocardial infarction, and stroke is presented here. Heart attack or myocardial infarction is a common cause of death.
Since a heart attack is caused by blockage of the blood supply to the heart, it can be prevented by foods that reduce the chances of thrombus formation, inflammation, and vessel narrowing.
Introduction to heart-healthy foods:
Diet plays a crucial role in the primordial, primary and secondary prevention of heart disease.
This means that either you are at risk of developing heart disease, or you have already developed it, preventing the disease or its progression requires making some wise decisions that will pay off later in life.
Here we will discuss a healthy eating pattern for heart patients that includes basic guidelines, foods that are good for heart health, and foods that should be avoided.
What is a Heart-Healthy Diet?
First of all, you must not stress about choosing a dietary pattern. Almost all the dietary patterns for heart disease focus on these four key concepts:
- Decrease total calorie intake.
- Limit the intake of trans fat and saturated fat
- Increase the consumption of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables
- Limit salt to 2300mg daily.
Still, this leaves a lot of misconceptions that lead to unhealthy eating patterns that ultimately put you at an increased risk of developing a heart attack.
Foods to prevent a heart attack and Stroke:
These foods have beneficial effects on the heart so, including them in the daily diet might greatly reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains are richer in minerals and vitamins than refined or white grains lack. These essential micronutrients act as protective agents against the development of chronic diseases. A diet that is rich in whole grains is rich in Vitamin E.
Two components that affect heart health are levels of essential fatty acids in the body and the levels of antioxidants.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is found in whole grains. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and thus protects the body against a heart attack.
The supplementation of Vitamin E is not generally recommended that’s why whole grains must be included in the daily diet.
2. Green tea:
Green tea contains abundant amounts of antioxidants. Catechins (antioxidants found in green tea) have been known to improve vascular reactivity.
One study suggests that Green Tea Catechins exhibit lipid-lowering properties. The study concluded that consumption of green tea is associated with a significant decrease in LDL levels. [Ref]
Drinking 1-2 cups o green tea per day can have beneficial effects.
3. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain a myriad of antioxidants and phytochemicals that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in fiber which exhibits cholesterol-lowering properties.
Fruits and vegetables must make up a significant component of the daily diet. This results in the downregulation of inflammatory markers.
Almost all fruits and vegetables are helpful, however, the following are some of the most beneficial:
- Red grapes
- Citrus fruits
- Green vegetables
4. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain phenolic compounds and they provide a beneficial omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. This helps to regulate fat metabolism and prevent inflammation.
Some of the most beneficial nuts and seeds include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but low in saturated fat.
People who have heart disease or are at risk of acquiring it are generally advised to eat more omega-3 fatty acids, which lessen the risk of irregular heartbeats and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating a 3.5-ounce plate of fatty fish twice a week.
6. Healthy Fats:
Unsaturated fats that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are known to decrease the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias and angina.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Flaxseed oil
- Walnut oil
- Canola oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados (can be used as an alternative to mayonnaise, dip sauce, and cheese.)
Foods that should be restricted:
Some of the foods that contribute to aggravating a heart disease include:
1. Unhealthy fats:
Avoid processed oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, and safflower oils
Avoid hydrogenated oils, ghee, butter, and trans fat that is found in many baked and processed foods. Trans fat has a direct link with the development of cardiovascular disease. In 2015, the US banned the use of trans fat in processed foods.
2. Convenience foods/Ready-to-eat foods:
Increased consumption of ready-to-eat foods and packaged products have increased the risk of obesity and heart disease.
These products are high in sodium, fats, and sugars and low in nutrients. These products must be avoided to maintain a healthy eating pattern.
3. Full-fat Dairy Products:
Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products to reduce the intake of saturated fats. Limit the consumption of hard cheese, cottage cheese can be a healthier alternative.
4. Limit Fast food:
Fast food must be kept in check. Mindful eating practices can help you find healthier options at fast-food chains.