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Healthy Diet to Protect Your Heart

Posted on: 30 Sep 2021

By: Dr Vinoth Kumar

Published in:

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Heart diseases are the leading cause of death across the world mainly because of unhealthy food choices and sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. If we follow healthy food choices, our children also tend to follow healthy food choices from childhood. So we can also prevent overweight and obesity in children.


A diet that comprises of the right amount and right quality nutrients is a healthy diet.


Consume a lot of whole grains (E.g., Brown rice, Buckwheat, Barley, Oats, Millets, corn). At least 50% of our daily cereal consumption should be whole grains.
Restrict refined carbs (White rice, refined flour – Maida, white bread, pastries, and cookies)
Restrict the amount of added sugars (E.g., sport drinks, cakes, cookies, flavored yogurt, coffee, and tea) to the diet.


For vegetarians –
Consume a good amount of lentils (moong dal, urad dal, masoor dal, toor dal, etc) dry beans, white peas, green peas, panner, nuts, etc are good sources of protein
For non-vegetarians –
Cut down on red meat consumption
Take oily sea fish like Atlantic salmon, sardines, Mackerel, Herring etc weekly two times (less fried )
Can take egg whites weekly 4-5 times
Poultry without skin(chicken) is preferred.


A healthy diet should contain less saturated fat and trans fat and more of unsaturated fatty acids

    Saturated fats:
Restrict the intake of saturated fats to less than 5% of calories per day.
The main sources of saturated fats are: Coconut oil, palm oil, Ghee, Butter, Deep-fried items, Processed red meat (beef, lamb, pork), cookies, high-fat whole milk, etc
 Unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA & PUFA):
Replace saturated fats with a diet rich in MUFA & PUFA:

  1. MUFA rich food items:

Oils: Olive oil, Avocado oil, Almond oil, Groundnut oil
Nuts: Groundnut, Hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, Almond, Pistachio, Peanuts
Seeds: Pumpkinseeds, Squash seeds, Sesame seeds
The recommended amount of nuts per day: One palmful per day for at least 5 days in a week

  1. PUFA rich food items:

omega 6 PUFA:
Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Soybean oil, and Corn oil
omega 3 PUFA:
Nuts: Walnut
Seeds: Chia seeds and Flaxseeds
Oily sea fish: the best source of omega 3 fatty acids

  1. Transfats:

These are dangerous types of fats for the body. In India vanaspati and snacks and sweets made from vanaspathi. Avoid transfats as much as possible in the diet.

  1. Amount of oil –

Overall, usage of cooking oil should be less than 30 ml (2 TABLESPOONS) per person per day.
For example, if a family has 2 adults and 2 children, they need 30+30+15+15=90 ml of oil per day (that means per month usage for this family would be less than 3 L)
Cold-pressed cooking oil is the best for good health

  1. Type of oil

Restrict oils containing saturated fat like butter, ghee, coconut oil, etc.
Preferably less than 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil per person per day.
Try to use oils with less saturated fat like groundnut oil, sesame oil, cold-pressed sunflower oil, olive oil or avocado oil.

All types of green, orange, and red vegetables and legumes like beans and peas should be part of daily diet.

How much?
We need to take at least 5 servings of vegetables per day.
1 serving:
1 small cup of green leafy vegetables (Equals to one adult fist)
half cup of cooked green or orange vegetables (broccoli, carrot)
1/2 cup of green peas, beans (Equals to half adult first)


How much?
5 servings of fruits per day
1 serving of fresh fruits = 1 adult fist / one medium-size apple or orange
1 serving of dry fruits = 1/4 cup / ¼ of fist or cupped hand dry fruits


For women 6 teaspoons of sugar per day
For men 9 teaspoons of sugar per day.
This includes added sugars in all soda, drinks, cakes, desserts, cookies, candies, yogurt, coffee, tea, and honey.


Reduce the salt intake to less than 1 teaspoon per day (5gms)
More than 70% of our salt intake comes from restaurant foods, processed foods, and pickles.


If alcohol is consumed, it should be restricted in moderation


Non filtered coffee is not good for health
Moderate consumption(3-4 cups) of filtered coffee is not harmful and in fact, it is beneficial against type 2 DM, depression and Parkinson’s disease


Green tea: Consumption of more than 5 cups of green tea reduces heart attack and brain stroke, bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Black tea: Not a significant reduction of heart attack or stroke is observed with black tea.

Eat a healthy diet and have a healthy life!