A person’s arteries can become clogged by a buildup of a substance called plaque. This condition called atherosclerosis is a mixture of fat, calcium, cholesterol and other waste material that stick to the walls of arteries making the blood vessels narrower. These blocked arteries stop the fresh blood from reaching parts of the body putting a person’s life at risk of a heart attack, heart failure or stroke.
Some doctors recommend aspirin and cholesterol reducing drugs but prevention is the best treatment to improve heart health. Removal of plaque is through invasive medical procedures is quite an extensive procedure. So, even though, there are no quick fixes to cure atherosclerosis, people can make lifestyle changes to stop its further accumulation and to improve overall health. In this article, we discuss how diet and lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on heart concerns
Eating a heart healthy diet
A heart- healthy diet and regular exercise can be the most powerful tools for preventing clogged arteries. People can prevent clogged arteries with the following lifestyle changes:
Avoiding trans fats
For a healthy heart one has to limit his intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats mainly red meat is considered to be the direct cause of heart problems. As these foods contain high levels of cholesterol which is the main ingredient in plaque building. Foods that are high in trans fats are like the following:
- fried foods
- cakes, pies, and pastries
- cookies and biscuits
- margarine or butter substitutes
- vegetable shortenings
- red meat, beef or mutton
- coconut and palm oils
Eating more unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats are the good fats that take the bad cholesterol from the arteries before it turns into plaque. Avocados, walnuts and fatty fish all contain unsaturated fats. Olives and vegetable oils are also its good sources.
Sugary beverages and meat should be completely avoided to maintain a healthy heart.
Herbal teas like green tea, black tea or ginger tea are heart healthy drinks as they help in lowering the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood of those who are at the risk of heart diseases. Green tea lowers LDL cholesterol whereas ginger tea improves the cardiovascular functioning significantly.
Exercise to shed some pounds
In addition to heart healthy diet, regular exercise is also necessary as losing weight reduces the risk of heart problems while obesity plays a major role in plaque building and heart diseases. Taking part in some cardio activities strengthen the heart and ensures its proper functioning. Simple cardio activities include:
- brisk walking
- playing tennis
- doing aerobics
Cook with healthier oils
Prepare your food in healthier oils to avoid inflammation and to reduce cholesterol levels. Avoid butter and margarine having unhealthy fats and try the following option for a healthy heart:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
Increase your intake of omega-3 fats
Increase your omega-3 intake. Fish; salmon tuna and trout are the excellent sources of omega -3 fats. Other than fish the following are the best sources of this fat:
- Chia seeds
- Soy products
- Leafy green vegetables
Choose whole grains
Always prefer whole grains as processed foods have less fiber in them, so instead of taking white rice, white flour and pasta choose brown rice, oats and whole wheat pasta and whole grain bread. Fiber intake drastically lowers the cholesterol levels.
Say no to smoking and drinking
Quit smoking and see the healthier and more active you. Studies have shown that smoking and alcoholic drinks are quite dangerous for heart health.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, our heart specialists and expert doctors may prescribe medication to help lower your LDL and prevent plaques. So, work with your doctor to devise a treatment plan otherwise some serious health complications can occur. You can book an appointment for a comprehensive exam with top cardiologists from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the right Doctor for your health concerns.