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How Healthy is your Heart – 4 Signs of a Healthy Heart

The heart is a vital organ that plays crucial functions in our body. According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for 1/5th of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, especially among the younger population. Risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus dyslipidaemia and obesity are associated with increased CVD cases among young Indians. In this day and age, having a healthy heart is a blessing, but it also takes some effort from your end to maintain its health. 

 

There are a variety of signs and habits that signal a strong heart. However, how to know your heart is healthy?  Let’s look at some signs of a healthy heart; these signs are a combination of medical symptoms and lifestyle habits: 

 

1. You have plenty of energy 

A good sign of a healthy heart is having good energy levels throughout the day to be able to perform everyday activities. Suppose you constantly feel fatigued or have difficulty doing daily activities such as climbing upstairs, carrying groceries or simply strolling around. In that case, that might be a sign that your heart is not functioning well. This occurs because the heart has to work overtime to provide the body with blood and in turn oxygen. Eventually, your heart might not be able to pump enough blood to meet your needs.

So, if you have a strong heart, it may translate to having enough energy throughout the day to keep up with your daily activities without feeling fatigued.

2. Heart rate

We’ve all heard the term resting heart rate, so how is this a healthy heart symptom? Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats every minute. Most adults’ resting heart rate should be 60 to 100 beats per minute. The heart rate can be checked at the wrists, inside the elbows, at the neck and at the top of your foot.  However, a well-trained athlete might have a heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute. Generally, a normal heart rate signals better cardiovascular health, that is, a strong heart since the heart is beating at a steady condition. Therefore, regular exercising is key to a better resting heart rate. 

3. Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is yet another indicator of good heart health. A normal blood pressure reads as 120/80 and is considered a sign of a healthy heart. The ‘120’ is a measure of the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries each time it beats and is termed systolic blood pressure. While the ‘80’ is a measure of the relaxed heart muscle in between beats is termed diastolic blood pressure. Any number above 120/80 is not a sign of a healthy heart.  You are at a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke at normal blood pressure levels.

4. Cholesterol

Cholesterol receives a bad reputation. However, normal cholesterol levels are essential for cell production. A normal cholesterol level is diagnosed as less than 200 mg/dl. Primarily, there are two types of cholesterol, Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol is susceptible to oxidation and is responsible for clogging the arteries, leading to health problems. HDL, or the “good” cholesterol, picks up the excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver. High levels of LDL cholesterol is harmful to our body and should be checked. One way to do that is to add more low-cholesterol foods to your heart-healthy diet plan. You should also choose the right kind of cooking oil,which is rich in fatty acids that can lower LDL cholesterol. An edible blended oil like Saffola Total is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

 

These signs above are essential in understanding whether our heart is healthy or not. However, nothing can trump a doctor’s appointment. Make sure that you get regular checks done by the doctor and engage in a healthy lifestyle.

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5 Superfoods for a Healthy Heart!

One of the body’s essential organs, without which the body would be meaningless, is the heart. Due to smoking, obesity, a lack of physical exercise, and other factors that impose stress on the cardiovascular system, the prevalence of coronary heart disease in young adults has significantly grown. Heart disease is a scary thing for the average person. In fact, it’s one of India’s leading causes of death. While many people start medication for this, a heart-healthy diet plan can also aid in keeping your heart strong. A plan focused on being careful of what and the way you eat will be beneficial. Because if you change the way you eat, you can change the way your heart functions!

Food is an integral part of every human being’s life. We are often tempted to make ourselves delicious items and treat ourselves once in a while. Incorporating some foods that are good for the heart into your everyday diet can go a long way in caring for your heart. This doesn’t require any significant effort, only some conscious thought. Here is our list of heart-healthy foods you can add to your shopping basket. 

5 Best Heart-Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

  • Nuts

Nuts are the powerhouses of nutrients, including both micronutrients and macronutrients. Everyone must consume a handful of assorted nuts daily as they are loaded with antioxidants which may decrease inflammation, aid in weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels, among other benefits. Almond is one nut that is easily available and healthy; it is packed with vitamins and minerals that are important for the heart. 

They are rich in monounsaturated fats and contain fibre. Walnuts are yet another nut that should be a part of your diet. They are packed with healthy fats such as omega-3  which are crucial for the heart. Nuts are healthier snacks alternative to junk food.  Nuts also help you increase HDL (Good Cholesterol) in your body, making it one of the best foods to strengthen the heart.

  • Berries

Berries are some of the healthiest food items; they are tasty and versatile. You can make so many things using berries; not only can one munch on them, but you can also make chocolate-covered strawberries, berry salad or blueberry crumble. These dishes are healthy and are great foods to improve heart health. They are also high in micronutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants, proving their efficacy as one of the best heart-healthy foods. If you don’t have much time on hand, add a few berries to a cup of yoghurt, a drizzle of honey, and some chopped nuts, and you have a quick yoghurt parfait ready to be feasted on. 

  • Cruciferous vegetables

Let’s introduce some vegetables now! Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprout and cabbage are some foods that strengthen the heart.   Cruciferous vegetables especially broccoli contain glucosinolates, which have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and help reduce LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk. They also provide fibre, folic acid, vitamin C, and omega-3 healthy fatty acids. 

  • Whole grains

It’s time to bring in another family of foods good for the heart. We’ve eaten our nuts, berries and veggies, and now it’s time to complete the meal with some healthy whole grains. Wholegrains include oats, wholewheat, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, barley, brown rice and the likes. For example, oats are a  beneficial food item containing beta-glucan fibre and antioxidants; they effectively reduce LDL cholesterol levels They are versatile and can be consumed as porridge, pancakes, overnight oats, added to milkshakes, etc.

  • Sea Food

Last but not the least, let’s dip our toes in the sea (figuratively). Fatty fish are some of the healthiest foods that improve heart health. Salmon, sardines, tuna and sea bass are some of the healthy fish. They are helpful in lowering blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation. 

In addition to adding these superfoods to your heart-healthy diet plan, cooking your meals in heart-healthy oils is another great way to strengthen your heart. Blended edible oil such as Saffola Gold  helps you increase HDL and lower LDL to ensure the overall well-being of your heart health. Want to take even better care of your heart? Here’s our guide to choosing the best heart-healthy cooking oil.

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Heart-Healthy Sources of Protein You Can Add To Your Diet

When looking after our health, especially that of the heart, we need to fuel our body with essential nutrients – such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals,  – to remain fully nourished. 

Not only does eating the right kind of foods and maintaining a healthy diet help keep you energised throughout the day, but it also has a lot of remedial benefits in the long run.

One of the essential nutrients our diet requires us to include is protein. Most commonly, the intake of protein is mistakenly associated with vigorous exercise. However, the fact is that protein is needed by each one of us because it is the building block of life — every cell in the body contains protein. Protein is important for the growth and development of the body and helps in the repair and maintenance of muscles.  

To ensure we are choosing healthy sources of protein, we must consider the right kinds of protein to promote the best diet for heart health.

Protein can come from plant as well as animal sources. Some heart-healthy sources of protein to include in your diet are as follows:

 

Plant-Based Sources

  1. Legumes, Beans and Pulses 

Legumes, beans and pulses are interchangeable terms. Legumes and beans are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants belonging to the Leguminous family and include chickpeas, kidney beans, soybeans, and black beans. Whereas when it is used as a dry seed, they are termed pulses and include lentils (known as “dal” in Indian households) and peas. 

The legume family is a great choice for healthy sources of protein and includes many health benefits. It is also low in saturated fat and sodium, making it a favourable option for a wholesome, heart-healthy diet.

  1. Tofu and Soy

Tofu and soy are rich sources of plant protein and contain an additional dietary compound called isoflavones, which reduces LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which is known to cause heart disease and strokes

Tofu is made from soybean curds, a type of legume, and is an excellent alternative for anyone looking at a vegan diet for heart health, that is rich in protein. Tofu lowers bad cholesterol which means it can protect the heart.  Soy is a complete plant protein which means it is a high quantity and quality protein. It is also naturally free of cholesterol, low in saturated fats, and rich in omega-3 fats —  all of which significantly decrease chances of heart problems. Soy products are easily available in the market like soya chunks, soya granules, etc. 

  1. Nuts and Seeds 

Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein. They are plant protein sources that can easily be incorporated into the diet. Nuts include almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios. 

Fun fact – peanuts are actually legumes but they’re part of the nut family due to their similar characteristics. Peanuts in the form of peanut butter are a great source of protein that can be easily consumed daily. 

Seeds include chia, flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. 

Both nuts and seeds not only provide protein but also have unsaturated fats that help regulate body weight when consumed with an energy-controlled diet and thus, protect the heart.

Nuts, isn’t it? So many benefits in such little powerhouses!

  1. Wholegrains 

Though whole grains are commonly consumed for their carbohydrate and fibre content, they can also provide protein. Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, barley, and buckwheat can be included in the daily diet. Instead of refined grains, opt for whole grains as it is a healthier choice packed with nutritional benefits. 

Oats and buckwheat contain fibre that is known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, giving you just the kind of heart-healthy protein you need to kickstart your health journey.

Animal Source

  1. Eggs, Skinless Poultry, Lean Ground Meats

Poultry is one of the most consumed animal sources of protein. Eggs are the gold standard for protein quality and are also rich sources of protein. They can be easily included in all meals. Additionally, skinless lean meat/chicken is also a high-quality protein with lower fat content for heart health. Even though red meat – either processed or unprocessed such as beef, pork or lamb contains protein, they are also high in saturated fats and can prove to be dangerous for the heart if not consumed in moderation. Hence, include eggs, chicken, and red meat in moderation to fulfil your protein needs. 

  1. Low-Fat Dairy Products 

While dairy products are an easy source of protein, they contain high amounts of saturated fats that in excess can be harmful to the heart.  It’s not a lie when they say it’s not good to be “too cheesy”.

This is why it becomes all the more important to choose low-fat dairy options such as skim or low-fat milk, yoghurt, or cheese to get your protein needs met. These low-fat options cut down on saturated fats and therefore, make them a healthier choice for your heart.

  1. Seafood and Fish 

Seafood is a great animal source of protein. Moreover, it is also lower in saturated fats and higher in healthy PUFAs. The omega-3 fatty acid is a PUFA which is considered to be an essential nutrient, however, it is not something our body can produce on its own. A core source of omega comes from fatty fish — such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines which have high levels of omega-3. 

One of the major health benefits associated with omega is lowering the risk of disease. This is through several ways such as reducing blood clots, lowering inflammation, and blood pressure — all contributors to heart disease. 

Now that we have a fair understanding of which types of protein to incorporate into a heart-healthy diet, it’s time we make more conscious choices about the ingredients we include in our diet. To create the best diet for heart health, you should also consider how you are cooking your food — the cooking oil you choose is equally important. A blended oil like Saffola Gold offers an ideal balance of good fats, MUFA and PUFA and helps you manage your cholesterol to give you an edge over regular cooking oil. 

Not sure where to begin? Read how to start a heart-healthy diet here.

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What is Smoke Point in Cooking Oils, and Why Does it Matter?

We all have cooking oils in our pantries; whatever the cuisine, the oil will always be an integral part of it. Over the years, oil has received a lot of bad reputation due to misinformation about it. Oil is nothing but fat, and fats are required for the body to function correctly.  However, not every oil is created equally; the trick is to choose the right oil that helps in cooking and is good for your health and heart.  One important thing to consider while buying oil is its smoke point. This is especially important in Indian cooking, which involves high-temperature cooking and frying. However, let’s first understand the concept of smoke points of oil

In the simplest terms, a smoke point refers to the temperature wherein the oil begins to smoke. The smoke point can also be referred to as the boiling  point. Heating an oil beyond its smoking point can lead to the formation of carcinogens; these carcinogens are connected with various chronic diseases. 

Every oil has different smoke points and understanding the smoke point of oils will help us make an informed decision and appropriately use them. 

 

Understanding the smoke points of oils:

  1. Refined oil will have a higher smoke point than unrefined oil. During the refining process, free fatty acids, and volatile compounds are removed. These volatile compounds tend to break down and cause rancidity in the oil. This makes refined oil perfect for cooking and deep-frying because of its high smoke point. Saffola oil is an example of a high smoke point oil making it ideal for all types of cooking. 
  2. The smoke point of an oil is also dependent upon the type of fatty acids in these oils. Oils high in polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats, such as sunflower and safflower, have a high smoke point.  Oils with high monounsaturated (MUFA) fats like avocado and olive are medium smoke point oils, while oils that are high in saturated fats like coconut and palm have high smoke point oil. Blended oils, a mix of two seed oils are targeted to have a better balance of MUFA and PUFA, which gives it a high smoke point and gives you good nutrition from fats. 
  3. As an oil grows older and is exposed to environmental factors like heat and air, the smoke point is affected. However, higher smoke point oils are relatively resistant to rancidity. 

The importance of the smoke point of oils:

  1. When oil reaches its smoking point, the fat in the oil begins to break down. The more the oil is heated, the more free fatty acids are broken down. Along with the release of free fatty acids, it also causes oxidation.  Oxidation is an undesirable series of chemical process that degrades the quality and quantity of the oil, leading to rancidity. Oxidation also causes production of free radicals that have harmful effects to the body. Therefore, it is always asked not to reuse frying oil over and over again. The reheating of oil also breaks down the antioxidants and can lead to chronic diseases.
  1. Oils with a good balance of  MUFAs and PUFAs are the healthiest of oils. These oils are heart-healthy and reduce the inflammation in our bodies. Saffola Gold is one such oil.  Also, with a high smoke pointSaffola oils retain their nutrition even at high temperatures.  

An oil cooked beyond its smoke point will also affect the flavour of the food. Each oil has its unique flavour, making it suitable for specific cuisines. However, cooking beyond the smoke point of oil can impart a bad flavour to the food. One can use refined oils instead as they are high smoke point oils.