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World Heart Day- Healthy Foods to Include In Your Diet

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Heart diseases are the leading cause of death around the world. As per WHO, over 17.9 million people die yearly from cardiovascular diseases. Heart attacks, once associated with old age, have now become more common among young adults in their 20s and 30s. The number of deaths and disabilities due to the disease has steadily risen worldwide. And this number was further fueled by the pandemic.

recent 2022 study showed that even a mild COVID-19 infection exponentially increased the risks of future heart complications among people, irrespective of age and any preexisting health conditions. This World Heart Day, it is vital that we make people more aware of their cardiovascular health and enable them to manage and alleviate their heart issues holistically with Ayurveda. 

Why Are Heart Health Issues Rising?

The most prominent risk factors for heart diseases are unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits; and physical inactivity. The consumption of junk, preserved, frozen, processed, oily, fried, fatty, greasy, salty (sodium-rich), and spicy food has been rising rapidly, along with the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Moreover, these foods often contain numerous palm oil derivatives that severely disrupt cholesterol levels because the body does not digest them easily.

The modern schedule-driven workflows have increased people’s reliance on such accessible but harmful foods. Consequently, the cases of high blood pressure (hypertension), blood sugar (diabetes), high cholesterol, and obesity have also been increasing. Deadlines and work pressure have caused excess stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Both physical and mental stress can severely harm the functioning of the necessary bodily hormones. This also raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failures, and other heart complications. The common symptoms of such heart diseases include:

  • Stabbing pain in the chest
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Sudden difficulties in breathing/breathlessness
  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Bodily heaviness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Water retention in the liver

When it comes to managing heart health, it is essential not to ignore even the slightest signs. An early expert Ayurvedic consultation is the first step to preventing casualties.

Improving Heart Health with Ayurveda

As per Ayurveda, the heart is the critical energy hub in the body where diverse energetic and physical pathways intersect. Hence, heart health directly influences other bodily functions and vice versa. Moreover, in Ayurvedic medicine, the heart is considered the primary location for all three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. 

They regulate various bodily functions and govern overall well-being. The three sub-doshas regulate the different functions of the heart: 

  • Vyana Vata (controls blood flow and heartbeat)
  • Sadhaka Pitta (regulates emotional balance)
  • Avalambaka Kapha (responsible for stability and strength)

Ayurvedic doctors recommend certain herbs to keep these vital biological energies balanced and improve the heart’s health and function. These include

  • Arjuna tree’s bark, which is revered as an effective tonic for the heart. It strengthens and tones the circulatory system and enhances the function of the heart muscles. Arjuna further helps maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels in the system. Mixing its powder with milk or boiling it in water can significantly improve one’s cardiac health.
  • Guggulu helps pacify the three doshas and balance the blood cholesterol and sugar levels.
  • Ashwagandha is a wonderful Ayurvedic herb, an efficacious cure for stress, anxiety, and depression, which in turn helps alleviate hypertension, nourish the nervous system, reduce fatty substances in the blood, and improve the heart’s overall health and function. 
  • Tulsi (basil) is one of the most sacred plants in Ayurvedic medicine and is immensely beneficial for stimulating healthy cardiovascular function. It aids proper circulation of blood throughout the body and balances the Kapha.
  • Sarpagandha (Indian Snakeroot), as per a recent study, balances the blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduces the formation of lipids (fat-like substances) in the blood vessels.

Sarpagandha Ghan Vati for the Heart

When there is excess physical or emotional stress in the system. The body releases dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are collectively known as catecholamines. Noradrenaline tightens/narrows the blood vessels, hence increasing the blood pressure. Whereas adrenaline increases heart rate and metabolism in the body.

Research showed that Sarpagandha significantly lowers the levels of catecholamines in the heart and the blood and reduces its production in the body. This slows the heart rate and opens up the blood vessels to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension). This herb can easily be leveraged in the form of effective Ayurvedic formulations like the Sarpagandha Ghan Vati

This formulation reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and helps reduce blood sugar levels and balance the three doshas to aid in healthy heart function. Moreover, Sarpagandha Ghan Vati is safe for consumption and easily tolerable because it consists of natural ingredients and does not show any adverse side effects, unlike conventional prescription drugs.

The Right Diet for the Heart

Consuming a nutritionally rich and balanced diet is essential for a healthy heart. Fast foods must be replaced with healthy, fresh, and home-cooked meals. Some essential foods for a healthy heart are:

  • Ghee (clarified butter) helps lubricate the blood vessels and keep them soft and moist. 
  • Berries possess the highest antioxidant activities among all the food types. They effectively alleviate inflammation, one of the most prominent risk factors for heart disease. Strawberries and blackberries especially improve metabolism, alleviate obesity, and reduce cholesterol in the body. 
  • Consuming ginger and turmeric can promote healthy circulation and flush out all the toxins from the blood to purify it. They help widen the blood vessels and improve their function to allow more blood to pass through them and reduce blood pressure easily.
  • Garlic, besides its vast culinary uses, helps reduce blockages in the arteries (blood vessels), alleviate blood pressure, and effectively decrease the cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc.) are loaded with various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The Vitamin K in them protects the blood vessels and prevents blood clotting. They contain nitrates that boost cellular function in the blood vessel lining, prevent them from hardening, and balance blood pressure levels.
  • Amla (Indian Gooseberry) is rich in Vitamins C, B5, and B6, along with nutrients like proteins, fibers, manganese, copper, potassium, and antioxidants. This fruit strengthens the arteries; reduces strokes; alleviates inflammation; and reduces sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fats levels in the blood.
  • Walnuts improve the function of the endothelium, a large organ responsible for the smooth movement of blood throughout the body. They are loaded with copper, magnesium, manganese, and fiber that help decrease cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Besides that, it is also important to note that, no matter how healthy the foods may be, consuming them in excess or in an improper manner can be harmful to health. Thus, Ayurvedic doctors recommend having well-spaced meals at regular intervals throughout the day and staying consistent with the dietary schedule to allow for better digestion, immunity, bodily function, and maintenance. 

Avoid binge-eating and eat only as much as required. Properly chewing the food is also vital for better digestion and nutrient absorption.

By following these dietary habits, one can easily balance the blood’s sodium, sugar, fat, and cholesterol levels and alleviate/prevent heart health issues. Including regular exercise in the daily schedule helps with food digestion and enhances blood circulation throughout the body, improving cardiovascular function. 

This World Heart Day, let us pledge to make people more aware and sensitive toward their heart’s health and enable them to adopt a heart-friendly lifestyle with Ayurveda. To know more about how an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and how you can leverage Ayurvedic medicines like Sarpagandha Ghan Vati, contact Hempstreet and get the best medical consultation for yourself.

References

https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases#tab=tab_1

https://www.onmanorama.com/lifestyle/health/stay-healthy-at-heart-with-ayurveda.html

https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/vibrant-heart/

https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/tips-to-prevent-heart-ailments-as-per-ayurveda-101630579072367.html

https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/herbs-for-high-blood-pressure-indian-snakeroot.htm

https://artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog/7-foods-that-nourish-your-heart/

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