Prevent cardiac disease with diet

Cardiac disease is an umbrella term that covers a number of diseases which affect the heart. The term includes heart failure, coronary artery disease and angina as well.

There are multiple causes of cardiac disease, some of which are outlined

  •  Unhealthy dietary choices
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  •  Excess weight and obesity
  • Diabetes
  •  A family history of heart disease
  •  A history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
  •  Age
  •  Smoking
  •  High alcohol intake
  •  Low activity levels
  •  High stress and anxiety levels

The flowchart below will help you understand how an unhealthy diet can
trigger off cardiac ailments:

  • Unhealthy Diet
  • Weight Gain
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Oxidative Stres Inflammation
  • Endothelial Dysfunction
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • PlaFormation
  • Ischemia /Reduced Blood Flow
  • Upsurge in Cholesterol Leve

How does diet help fight cardiac ailments?

A plant-based diet helps reduce risk of heart disease by 40% as this kind of diet is rich in potassium and magnesium whilst being low in sodium and unhealthy fats. A plant-based diet keeps weight in check. It reduces lipid levels, blood pressure and vascular damage, thereby protecting the heart. The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a nutritional program assembled in the 1990s to prevent hypertension and risk of heart disease. The DASH diet comprises of vegetables and fruits, as well as low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and nuts. It is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and dietary fibre while being low in sodium, and saturated fatty acid (SFA). The DASH diet reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11.4 and 5.5 mmHg in patients with hypertension. with proper diet and lifestyle modification, risk of cardiovascular disease decreases by 12%

The following flowchart explains how excess calories leads to cardiac

  • Excess Calorie Intake
  • Weight Increases
  • Insulin Resistance Increases Oxidative Stress Occurs
  • TG Levels in Blood Increase
  • Cardiac Hypertrop Inflammation Happens
  • Heart Failure Develops
  • Stroke Ensues

Check out how a proper diet helps reverse cardiac disease:

  • Reduces Weight
  • Reduces Insulin Resistance
  • Reduces Oxidative Stress
  • Decreases TG
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Reduces Risk of Heart Failure and Stroke

Carbohydrates play an important role in preventing and curing heart diseases.

Both quality and quantity of carbohydrates are important in a healthy eating pattern. Diets high in glycemic index and glycemic load have been associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Diets low in glycemic index or load have been inversely associated with CHD.
Excess consumption of sugar or simple carbohydrates increases thyroglobulin (TG) and cholesterol levels in blood, increases BP and weight, thereby increasing insulin resistance.

What is a low carbohydrate diet?

A low-carbohydrate diet is defined as consumption of 30 to130 g of carbohydrates per day or up to 45% of total calories. A low carbohydrate diet helps reduce TG and increases high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Studies suggest that a low carbohydrate diet also helps keep body mass index (BMI) in the healthy range. A low carbohydrate diet helps reduce insulin resistance and increases insulin sensitivity. It helps control sugar levels, reduces blood pressure. (Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).

Dietary fibre and cardiovascular disease.

In a meta-analysis of 22 cohorts, a 7 g/day increase in fibre intake was associated with a 9% decrease in CHD incidence. Intake of fibre, particularly cereal fibre, has also been shown to reduce all-cause mortality among myocardial infarction (MI) survivors by 27% as compared with a low fibre intake.

Dietary fats:

Of the 3 primary types of dietary fat – trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, and unsaturated (includes mono and polyunsaturated fats) fatty acids – trans fatty acids have been strongly associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Excess consumption of saturated fats and trans fats leads to an increased risk of heart disease.

Omega 3 fatty acids play a crucial role in preventing heart disease.

Flax seeds and walnuts are excellent examples of omega 3 fatty acid rich foods. Antioxidant nutrients are compounds that inhibit oxidation which is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals leading to vascular damage. Vitamins A, E and C act as antioxidants, hence they help reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). These vitamins reduce inflammation and improve vasodilatation of vessels, reduce platelet adhesion, improve endothelial function and hence help reduce risk of heart diseases such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and angina.

The writer, Dr Mitali Madhusmita, is a senior Ayurveda Vaidya at Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma, Bangalore.



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