Every year, World Heart Day is observed on 29th September across the world to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its impact. A review article published recently says that India has a higher age-standardized death rate for CVD (282 deaths/100,000 (264-293)) than the rest of the world (233 deaths/100,000 (229-236)). The age-standardized DALY (disability-adjusted life year) rate associated with CVD has also been reported to be 1.3 times the global average. CVDs strike Indians a decade earlier than the western population. This year, as a reminder to everyone around the world to take care of their hearts the theme of World HeartDay is ‘Use Heart Know Heart’, the heart used in the form of an emoji. The campaign focuses on the essential step of knowing our hearts first.
A survey report from India some years ago recommended ideal cardiovascular health indicators which included not smoking, 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, high physical activity, body mass index (BMI) less than 25 Kg/m2, blood pressure (BP) less than 120/80 mm Hg, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) less than 100 mg/dl, and total cholesterol (TC) less than 200 mg/dl.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating 42 gram of almonds as a daily snack while maintaining a healthy diet lowers the risk of developing heart disease. Almond snacking also lowers waist circumference and belly fat, two main established risk factors for heart disease. With cardiovascular diseases becoming a serious health concern amongst many Indian households, dietary and lifestyle modifications can play an important role in reducing risk factors associated with heart disease. The first step in achieving better heart health is by making better food choices. Adding a handful of almonds to your family and your daily diet is a good habit to form, as they contain a host of nutrients, make for a healthy snacking option, and help with heart health. Consuming almonds may lower LDL cholesterol and significantly improve HDL cholesterol when included in a healthy diet and reduce levels of heart damaging inflammation.
Speaking about the importance of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, Popular Bollywood actress, Soha Ali Khan, said, “I believe firmly that lifestyle changes play a very crucial role in one’s heart health. Keeping this in mind, I always make sure I consume a balanced, nutritious diet and limit ultra-processed foods. Eating
heart-healthy foods is also something that is a priority for me. I consume a handful of almonds everyday as a pre/ post workout snack. I also carry a box of almonds with me when I am on the move as they are portable and provide essential nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, protein, riboflavin, zinc, and more. I also incorporate moderate to intense physical activity daily for at least 30 min. I’ve noticed that my daughter Inaaya also shows interest when I workout at home and she tags along to do the exercises!”
Adding to the importance of heart health and why this day should be marked, Dr. Rohini Patil, MBBS, and nutritionistsaid “There is a myth that heart diseases affect men predominantly, however heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in India, accounting for almost 18% of all female deaths Heart disease is most frequently brought on by factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, heavy alcohol use, and smoking. Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising frequently, giving up smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, controlling diabetes, etc. are some of the preventive measures for heart disease. In several well-conducted clinical trials, almonds have been found to lower LDL-C, a known risk factor for coronary heart disease. A review by a panel of Indian nutritionists and physicians, published in the journal Nutrients, suggests that daily inclusion of almonds as part of a healthy diet may help reduce dyslipidemia, one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease among Indians.”
Celebrity Pilates Master Instructor, Yasmin Karachiwalasaid, “Engaging in physical activity contributes to strengthening the heart muscles, effectively managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and aiding in weight management. Nonetheless, seeking medical advice before starting any exercise regimen is highly recommended. It’s advisable to allocate at least 30 min everyday day for an exercise routine of your preference. Options include home workouts guided by a physical or virtual trainer, participating in dance classes, practicing yoga, Pilates, aerobics, or even going for a run. Whichever activity you choose, a three-fold approach is crucial. First, consult a medical professional to determine the exercise type that aligns with your health status. Second, commit to a consistent routine, and third, complement your regimen with wholesome snacks like almonds. Almonds help in increasing energy intake through healthy fats and also give a feeling of fullness, making them an ideal pre- or post-workout snack. Studies indicate that regular consumption of almonds may contribute to maintaining a healthy heart by helping to lower detrimental LDL cholesterol levels.”
Speaking about this, Sheela Krishnaswamy, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant said “According to WHO, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. This makes it important for people to be knowledgeable about heart disease’s early warning signs and preventative measures in order to avoid a fatal outcome. According to a study, eating almonds as snacks can improve endothelial function and cardiac autonomic function, and has the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by about 30%. Along with making lifestyle changes, it is essential to include heart healthy foods in your diet like leafy greens, other vegetables, fruits, nuts like almonds, fish, dals and whole grains.”
Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head-Dietetics, Max Healthcare – Delhi, said “This year’s theme for World Heart Day is fitting as people lack the awareness with regards to their heart health and the simple steps to take charge of their health Foods that pose a risk to a person’s health need to be replaced with better options like almonds. In several well-conducted clinical trials, almonds have been found to lower LDL-C, a known risk factor for coronary heart disease. The impact of almond consumption on HDL-C has also been studied, and the results show that eating almonds can help keep HDL-C levels stable. A daily intake of about 45 g of almonds can help lower dyslipidemia, one of the main risk factors for CVD in Indians.”