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Tips for a healthy heart


Most cardiovascular or heart ailments are caused by arterial wall thickening due to accumulation of fatty materials like cholesterol. While there’s nothing we can do about genetic mutation, there are a number of things we can do to control the lifestyle factors that cause heart disease. 


1. Stop Smoking - The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that smoking increases the chance of suffering from  coronary heart disease by two to four times, due to reduced blood circulation and narrowed arteries. Also, second hand smoke kills 600,000 people every year out of which 100,000 are children and 87% of deaths owing to second hand smoke are due to cardiovascular diseases. So stop smoking now, if not for yourself then for your near and dear ones whom you’re exposing to second hand smoke.


2. Drink moderately - Excessive drinking is tied to various cardiovascular issues like obesity, high blood pressure and increased risk to coronary artery disease. Binge drinking too is linked to poor cardiovascular health. 


3. Sleep properly - Initially the human body’s internal clock was adapted to the natural day-light schedule. Exposure to artificial light has thrown it off-track. This has also led to various kinds of sleep disorders which in turn impacts your appetite causing obesity, glucose metabolism and increases blood pressure. It’s a vicious cycle really and getting enough sleep is very important to keep heart disease at bay.


4. Reduce intake of saturated and trans-fats - Saturated fats are present in food items like butter, red meat, dairy products, chocolates, etc. and are known to raise ‘LDL’ or bad cholesterol levels. Most dieticians recommend limiting their intake. Trans-fats are unsaturated fats which have the same effect. Manufactured food items usually contain a lot of trans-fats and are best avoided.


5. Load up on unsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids - Unsaturated fats are of two types – mono-unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, peanut oil) and poly-unsaturated (sesame, cottonseed and soya bean oils). Both types of unsaturated fats are known to lower bad cholesterol levels and boost good cholesterol levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-saturated fats which are considered essential as they can’t be manufactured by the human body. Good sources include fish oils, milk compounds, flax seeds and nuts.