Our heart is one of the most crucial and sacred organs of our body. While the risk of developing heart diseases begins to increase around ages 45 in men and 55 in women but, over the past few years the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases have increased among the millennial generation. Our bad lifestyle choices have greatly contributed to our bad heart health. Be it smoking, alcoholism, lack of physical activity or bingeing on unhealthy and junk foods. Heart attacks have become quiet mainstream and a call for concern. Although cardiovascular diseases are preventable through healthy food choices, exercise, and viable lifestyle choices, you also need to adopt a heart healthy diet plan to pave your way towards a healthy heart! No single food will ever make you magically healthy. Your overall dietary pattern is more important than specific foods. Therefore we’ve compiled some cardiologist approved diet tips to please your heart. Check ‘em out Consume probiotic foods Probiotics are referred to bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Some of the probiotic foods which are considered super healthy include yoghurt, sauerkraut, crème fraîche , kimchi, miso etc. The bacteria in your gut regulates how much energy you absorb from other foods. And they have a significant part to play in your weight. There is significant evidence that probiotics can reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation. Probiotics can help restore healthy bacteria in the gut, which greatly improves heart health. A healthy gut precedes a healthy heart! Avoid High Lectin foods Lectin sure does have several health benefits but on the flip side, it is recommended to cut down on lectin rich foods as it can cause harm to our body. Foods high in lectins include corn, milk, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, nightshades, squashes, and certain fruits. The consumption of lectin has been tied to the weakening of blood vessels, an early sign of heart diseases as well as triggering inflammation. Pick your proteins wisely A number of studies suggest that replacing high-fat meats with more heart-healthy proteins like fish, beans, poultry, nuts, and low-fat dairy might help prevent heart disease to a great extent. The nutrients in these protein foods can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. By switching these proteins for high-fat meat options, you can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Avoid dairy This may be bad news for people who can’t survive without consuming dairy products. Saturated fats are found in full fat dairy products such as whole milk, butter, and cream. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. The AHA advises people to choose fat free or low fat dairy products to obtain calcium without the saturated fat. Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables A heart healthy diet plan is incomplete without incorporating loads of colorful and healthy fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide several healthy nutrients, especially fiber, which tend to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve the functionality of the blood vessels. The ones that offer the greatest benefits include apples, pears,papaya oranges and other citrus fruits; green leafy vegetables such as broccoli , cabbage, spinach and cauliflower and green and yellow vegetables like capsicums and beans. Go for whole grains This tip acquires a prominent spot in a cardiologist approved diet. There’s nothing better than incorporating whole grains in your diet. Whole grains contain vitamin B, fibre, folic acid, fibre, magnesium, selenium, and other essential nutrients. Try to limit muffins, waffles, donuts, biscuits and crackers. Instead, choose whole grain bread, oats and oatmeal, popcorn, whole grain pasta, white and brown rice. They are all popular types of whole grain. You can also try other less popular whole grains, such as whole-grain farro, quinoa or barley. Pay attention to fats Watch out for those fats! Eating foods high in saturated fats and trans fats increase your likelihood of developing heart diseases. Saturated fats lead to a high blood cholesterol level which leads to a build-up of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. An easy way to omit these fats from your diet is to cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, margarine or shortening. Switch to foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat which can improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Embrace omega 3 fatty acids in your diet such as fatty fish such as salmon, trout, or herring, and vegetables like kale and spinach. Other healthy fat staples include olive oil, avocados and walnuts. Avoid added sugars This is probably the oldest advice in the book but sugar is the real killer when it comes to cardiovascular diseases. That’s because eating sugar spikes inflammation, blood lipids, and insulin. There are only two ways to sweeten food, and both are equally bad for our bodies. First , by using sugar, which contains fructose that can increase the fats in your blood and cause a condition known as dyslipidemia. And second – artificial sweeteners, which have their own set of problems: They have chemicals that spike cravings by leaving your body unsatisfied since they only mimic the taste of sugar but don’t deliver it to the bloodstream. Cut back on beverages and processed foods with added sugars. Embrace high fibre food A diet high in fibre can lower “bad” cholesterol and provide nutrients that help protect against cardiovascular diseases. And the added bonus is that it helps in weight loss and healthy weight management. That is because fibre stays in the stomach longer than other foods, thus the feeling of fullness will stay with you much longer, helping you eat less. Legumes, beans, cereals, whole grains and certain fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, carrots, and peas are great sources of both soluble and insoluble fibres. Bye, bye sodium Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Although reducing the amount of salt you add to food at the table or while cooking is a good first step, much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can dramatically reduce the amount of salt you consume. Better yet, use fresh ingredients and cook without salt. Conclusion Getting smart about your heart early on puts you far ahead of the curve. Heart disease is a growing epidemic, but adopting a heart-healthy diet plan forms the foundation for preventing and fighting heart diseases. Needless to say, there’s no time like the present to adopt these cardiologist approved diet tips and fostering your way towards a happy heart!