Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the CDC, heart disease caused 23.5% of all deaths in the US in 2017. However, it can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a diet low in saturated fats and rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and stress management. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of fruits and yoga in preventing heart disease.
The World Health Organization recommends an intake of 400gm (1lbs) of fruits per day. A diet low in fruits is the third leading risk factor for heart disease. Six specific fruits have been proven to be effective in preventing cardiovascular disease: Red grapes, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Apple, Avocado, and Hawthorn. These fruits have been studied scientifically, and their efficacy has been established.
Red grapes contain several phytochemicals, such as resveratrol, anthocyanin, and proanthocyanidin, which have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. They correct endothelial dysfunction, reduce blood lipids and pressure, inhibit oxidative stress, improve platelets function, alleviate ischemic damage, prevent inflammation, and increase vascular compliance.
Blueberries decrease aortic lesions, reduce serum lipid profiles, prevent atherosclerosis, and improve oxidative parameters and vascular reactivity.
Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and contain the bioactive compound punicalagin, which acts as a scavenger and ferrous chelator of hydrogen peroxide. It prevents coronary artery atherosclerosis, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the blood vessels.
Apples are a major source of fiber and antioxidants. They help lower cholesterol levels due to their phytocompounds, such as catechin, epicatechin, and procynadin B1.
Hawthorn is traditionally used mainly for digestive disorders. It reduces triglycerides and low-density lipid and total cholesterol ratio, reduces atherosclerotic lesions, suppresses weight gain with hawthorn pectin pentaoligio saccharides, reduces hepatic fatty acid synthesis, increases lipid excretion in feces, and reduces serum triglycerides levels.
Avocado contains lipophilic compounds, such as monounsaturated fatty acid, polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin E, phytosterol, and squalene. The avocado pulp contains acetogenin compounds, which inhibit aggregation and prevent the formation of thrombus. Avocado oil reduces LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides levels.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management, yoga can also help prevent heart disease. Stress is a leading risk factor for heart disease, apart from eating habits and low physical activity. In this era, yoga is an answer to stress. Yoga is a well-known tool for stress management and can change a person’s complete personality.
Yoga can be practiced through various techniques, including joint movements with breath awareness, half-wheel pose with three-dimensional awareness, cobra pose with self and breath awareness, and Gomukhasna with heart chakra and breath awareness. Breathing exercises, such as Kapalbhati (forceful exhalation and passive inhalation) with awareness on solar chakra and alternate nostril breathing (nadi suddhi pranayama) with awareness on ajana chakra, bring balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Bhramari (humming sound) is also very effective in reducing stress.
A healthy lifestyle that includes a diet low in saturated fats and rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, stress management, and yoga can help prevent heart disease. Incorporating the six specific fruits, including red grapes, blueberries, pome granates, apples, avocados, and hawthorn, into your diet can also have a positive impact on your cardiovascular health. Additionally, practicing yoga regularly can help manage stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.
It’s also essential to keep track of your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, maintain a healthy BMI, manage your blood pressure, and get enough sleep. It’s recommended to limit salt intake according to WHO recommendations (2–4 gm/day) and avoid white sugar, choosing instead to use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as mustard oil, olive oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
Heart disease affects a large portion of the population and can be deadly. However, by adopting a healthy lifestyle and incorporating fruits and yoga into your routine, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and live a healthier life. Remember to consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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