Talking about heart health and cardiovascular disease, one of the most significant underlying factors that contributes heavily on this topic would undeniably be our daily consumption. Although other factors such as genetics, age, smoking, and lifestyle would also play a significant role, cardiologists believe that by reducing or avoiding heavily salted food, high sugar intake, and staples that consist of high cholesterol, one might spare themselves a significant amount of cardiovascular risk in the long run.
Heavily salted food
The haemodynamic concept allows us to understand that the relationship of salt (sodium) and hypertension is directly proportional. As too much sodium in the blood will narrow and stiffen our blood vessels, in turn increases blood pressure. In the long run, high blood pressure increases the tendency of vascular damages, allowing microvascular pathology to slowly develop across time.
The common staples that are easily associated with high sodium or heavily salted foods include pretzels, pasta and its sauce, instant noodles, mixed nuts, tortilla chips, bottled sauce or salad dressing, french fries, fast foods, and many more. Cooking at home might also very well be alongside the culprit if you add too much salt in your dishes.
Extremely sugary food
Eating food high in sugar or consuming sweet drinks regularly might induce diseases such as diabetes. Onced triggered, our body’s ability to regulate normal blood sugar levels might be disrupted. Going forward, the rise in blood sugar over time will (also) damage our blood vessels inner lining. This would potentially encourage microvascular pathology to develop in common sites such as the coronary arteries, cerebral arteries, and other peripheral blood vessels.
The common types of dietary source that are high in sugar, would includes, low-fat yogurt, bottled sauces, carbonated drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, chocolate milk, granola & protein bar, flavored coffee, iced tea, premade soup, canned products, premade smoothies or cordial drinks. Albeit the sugary proportion might differ from time to time, it is best that you check the ingredient labels and tag the next time you go to the grocery store.
Although fat is an essential micronutrient for our body’s metabolism, the consumption of bad foods that are high in fat usually refers to the ingested saturated fat and trans fat (hydrogenated fat). Ideally, fat is a good source of energy, but too much of it flowing around in the bloodstream would impose greater risk of clogging up the arteries. Atherosclerosis – that arises due to the combination of damaged blood vessel lining and high cholesterol levels – is one of the common pathological phenomena that would cause diseases such as strokes, ischemia, and peripheral artery disease.
The common food that is high in saturated and trans fat would include, fast food products, whipped cream, beef short ribs, fried foods, fatty snacks, processed meats, desserts, salad dressing, lard and margarine.
How would we achieve this?
Nowaday there are many active dietary platforms and plans that we can commit to, in order to preserve our heart health and also prevent the buildup of chronic complications due to cardiovascular related disease. One of the prominent dietary initiatives would include the DASH diet.
Originated in the 1990s by the National Institute of Health (NIH), it was initially named the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Authentic studies that were reevaluated every now and then – to ensure its significance – have confirmed that dietary approach alone may decrease the blood pressure of a hypertensive and normal individual. It thus became a common first-line approach within the realm of cardiovascular management, alongside lifestyle modifications and specific medication.
The DASH diet consists of a few principles that basically helps to decrease one of the common factors of cardiovascular disease – hypertension. However, research has shown that the benefits of the DASH diet may also reduce other predisposing factors such as diabetes and obesity. This can clearly be seen by introducing the principle of the DASH diet.
- Strictly low sodium intake (by limiting salt consumption accordingly).
- Encourage the consumption of whole-grain food and fish, but limit the amount of red meat, sweeteners, and sugary drinks.
- Eating foods that have low saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol levels, including low-fat dairy products, whilst increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Diets high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein and fiber.