Every year, World Heart Day is celebrated on 29th September, to raise awareness around Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke which are steadily on the rise globally. CVD remains the world’s number one killer, resulting in 18.6 million deaths a year and is the leading cause of mortality in India as well. This year, in sync with the current healthcare crisis that the world is facing the theme of World Health Day is ‘Use heart to connect’. Centered on this theme, the aim is to harness the power of the digital medium to improve awareness across people and prevent and better manage CVD globally.
As the world adapts to an ever changing sense of normal, it’s important to take a step back, and relook at lifestyle choices that individuals and families are making, and come together to lessen the impact of this morbid disease. To begin the journey to better heart health, it’s important to make heathy lifestyle choices which will prove to be valuable over time. Start by adding a handful of nuts like almonds to the family and your own daily diet, as they are a source of a variety of nutrients and make for a heart healthy snack.
Speaking about the importance of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, leading Bollywood actress, Soha Ali Khan, said, “Nutrition is key to good health. Maintaining your family’s and your heart health takes effort. However, in the long run, making small yet mindful changes to your diet and lifestyle is all worth it. With CVD increasingly becoming common across families in India, making relevant lifestyle and diet changes is necessary. One of the easiest changes you can make is to replace fried or processed snacks with healthier options like dry, salted, or flavored almonds. Almonds are a source of nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, protein, riboflavin, zinc, etc. which makes them a healthy snack. Research also suggests that regular consumption of almonds may reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels and help maintain protective HDL cholesterol when included in a healthy diet. It may also help reduce levels of heart damaging inflammation for individuals with type-2 diabetes .”
According to Fitness and Celebrity instructor, Yasmin Karachiwala, “It’s a well-established fact that to maintain good heart health, regular exercise is important. Physical activity can strengthen heart muscle, help in better managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and assist in keeping one’s weight under check. So be sure to take out at least 30 minutes – 1 hour every day to dedicate to a form of exercise you enjoy. You could opt for a home workout with a trainer (physical or virtual), join a dance class, practice yoga, Pilates, aerobics or run. But whichever form you choose, make sure to do three things. First, consult your doctor to get his/her view on what form of exercise is best suited for you in accordance with your health status, second, be regular and committed, and third, couple your routine with healthy snacks like almonds. Almonds are known to provide energy and have satiating properties which makes them a good snack to munch on pre or post a workout. Almonds also contain healthy fats and studies suggest that regular consumption may help maintain a healthy heart by reducing harmful LDL cholesterol levels..”
Adding to Yasmin’s suggestions, Ritika Samaddar, the Regional Head-Dietetics, Max Healthcare – Delhi said, “To keep one’s heart healthy, it’s important to keep the weight under check. Abdominal fat is often linked to increased blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and elevated levels of triglycerides, all known risk factors for CVD. By being more conscious about your family and your weight, you move one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. Along with exercising every day, take a hard look at your family’s snacking choices, and replace all unhealthy items with nutritious snacks. One snack I would definitely recommend is almonds. As per a study, snacking on almonds regularly helps reduce central adiposity (belly fat) and waist circumference. Be sure to eat a handful of almonds every day to manage your weight better, and while adding to your heart’s health.”
Nutritionist, Neha Ranglani mentioned, “The past year and a half has been tough with the pandemic taking center stage in our lives. A recent study published in the Lancet revealed that the risk of heart attack and stroke increased threefold in the first two weeks in people who had the Covid19 virus. Given this context, it’s more important now than ever to take stock of our lifestyles, and make necessary changes to manage our heart’s health. Include foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium, stay active and try to manage stress levels to lead a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, replace typical snacks with nutrient rich options like almonds. According to a study, participants who had been replacing typical snacks with almonds experienced improved heart rate variability (HRV), an important indicator of the cardiovascular system’s response to stress. Improved HRV indicates that the heart is more adaptable in response to mental and environmental challenges. .”
Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Sheela Krishnaswamy mentioned, “Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality in India. To add to this, the pandemic has given a rise to an inactive lifestyle with erratic or long work hours, increased virtual dependence, a high incidence of unhealthy snacking and low or zero exercise making Indians more susceptible to CVD. Given this context, it’s pertinent to re-assess lifestyle choices and begin the course correction. Including almonds as part of a healthy diet may help in lowering risk factors for CVD among Indians by keeping in control dyslipidemia, a condition marked by high LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels and low HDL cholesterol levels.
So, this World Heart Day, pledge to lead a healthier and happier life, while also urging friends, family and loved one’s do so.