By Chioma Obinna
In recent times, incidence of sudden death has become almost a daily occurrence. Many of these deaths are as a result of heart attack. Most of the victims never knew they could have a heart attack. But it could happen to anyone.
Despite the inexplicable nature of these deaths, a number of people do not go for regular heart check. A common excuse given for this is fear. But the truth is that checking and looking after your heart will help you protect your heart for as long as you live.
Experts point out that if you want to be around for a long time, don’t be scared to go for regular heart check. Studies have shown that people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of heart problems, have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.To lower the risk, make small changes at each meal. Choose foods that are healthy and friendly for your heart.
Make a list of foods healthy foods and increase your motivation to eat them. Each time you eat one of these healthier foods, remind yourself – with each bite, you are lowering your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are key. The dietary fibre in these foods helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol — one of the main contributors to heart attack and stroke. Put these on your plate with every meal to reach these daily amounts: At least five servings of fruits and vegetables and three servings of whole grains daily. Eat at least four servings of legumes (beans), seeds, and nuts weekly. Put healthier fats to work for you. Cook with oils high in healthy, unsaturated fats, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. These oils are less likely than butter or lard to clog your arteries.
Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, including albacore tuna, salmon, or sardines. This fat is a powerful defender against heart attack and stroke. Omega-3s lower triglycerides, fight plaque, lower blood pressure, and reduce isk of abnormal heart rhythms.
For lean, unprocessed protein, make fish and chicken your mainstay. They help lower your chance of a heart attack and stroke, while red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) increase your risk.
When you skip a meal, you are more likely to overeat later. For some people, eating five to six mini-meals works best to limit calories, help control blood sugars, and regulate metabolism. For others, three meals a day works better, since extra meals can trigger overeating. See which approach works for you.
Try using dried herbs and spices instead of salt. For chicken, try using rosemary, garlic, or sage. For fish, try dill or tarragon.
Activity is good medicine. Exercise strengthens the heart, improves blood flow, raises “good” HDL cholesterol, and helps control blood sugar and body weight.
Add years to your life by quitting smoking. Research shows that quitting works as well — if not better — than just about any heart drug available. Quitting now will lower your risk of death from heart disease by 33 percent.
Small steps help with obesity and heart health. Just dropping five kilos — even if you are still technically overweight afterward — will reduce your overall risk a heart attack or stroke.