Diet is the fundamental element on which the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors are based, together with the practice of a healthy lifestyle.
Cardiovascular diseases are currently the main cause of mortality in the adult population of developed countries. At present, the fundamental role of diet in the development of cardiovascular diseases has been widely demonstrated, considering that some components of the diet are protective with respect to cardiovascular pathology, while others are harmful.
What is considered cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels , including:
- Cerebrovascular accidents: thrombosis, embolism, hemorrhage
- Coronary cardiopathy
- peripheral arthropathy
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Cognitive heart disease
Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) and heart attacks often occur due to blockages that prevent blood from flowing to the heart or brain. The most common cause is the formation of fatty deposits on the walls of the blood vessels that supply these organs.
How can diet help?
Diet is, along with exercise, the key to improving cardiovascular disease. Diet is directly related to arteriosclerosis and influences other cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, obesity or diabetes.
- A total intake of fat less than 30% of the energy intake, and may be 35% in the case of habitual consumption of olive oil .
- An intake of saturated fatty acids less than 10% of the total energy of the diet.
- Cholesterol less than 300 mg/day.
Also Read: An Avocado A Day To Lower Cholesterol
What other values should we take into account?
The increase in total blood cholesterol should not be above 200 mg/dl and LDL-cholesterol (commonly known as bad cholesterol) should not be above 130-160 mg/dl. If the figures are above they favor atheromatous plaques. On the other hand, HDL-cholesterol takes part of these fat accumulations to be eliminated, which is why it is interesting to have it high, more than 35 mg/dl in men and 40 mg/dl in women.
- Foods that should be avoided: the most harmful foods are products with saturated fats , more than foods rich in cholesterol, such as eggs, which despite having high cholesterol levels can be taken two to three times a day. week. On the contrary, the consumption of products rich in saturated fats, both of animal and vegetable origin (cold meats, processed products such as pastries, snacks, pre-cooked dishes, fatty cheeses, fatty meats…) is discouraged.
- Recommended foods : those that increase HDL-cholesterol, that is, those that contain monounsaturated fat such as virgin olive oil and avocado. And those with polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3 fatty acids) such as oily fish, nuts, oilseeds… and foods rich in fiber (fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains), since they are capable of delaying the absorption of fats and sugars.
HDL cholesterol also increases with regular physical exercise.
These lipids are the basis for the formation of atheromatous plaques. Values greater than 150-200 mg/dl should be avoided.
Foods that should be avoided : alcohol, simple sugar (table sugar, ice cream, sweets, pastries, soft drinks, industrial juices, chocolates, jams…), refined cereals… Maintaining an adequate weight also improves triglyceride values.
Blood pressure is the force that the heart needs to pump blood through the blood vessels, it should not be above 140/90mmHg.
- Foods to avoid: excess of exciting components such as theine or caffeine, an excess of salt (table salt, sausages, pickles, pre-cooked dishes, processed products…). Being overweight and stress worsen blood pressure.
We must not forget the importance of antioxidants in our diet since they provide benefits for health in general:
- Vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C prevent the deterioration of the capillaries.
- Vitamin E is found mainly in extra virgin olive oil, and nuts, especially walnuts and hazelnuts.
- Beta Carotenoids are found in red-orange vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, as well as spinach, escarole, chard, pepper, chives… and fruits such as mango, melon, persimmon…
- Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables. Among the fruits, citrus fruits stand out (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon…), as well as strawberry, mango, kiwi, papaya, guava… Among the vegetables, red and green pepper, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, raw cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard … Vitamin C is easily inactivated by heat, so it is advisable to consume raw foods.
What should not be missing in your diet
- Ensure fiber intake (20-30g daily) through legumes, fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- consume :
- 3 pieces of whole fruit daily (one citrus fruit per day is recommended).
- 2 servings of vegetables/vegetables daily (one of the servings must be raw).
- Consume legumes at least 2 times a week, cooked with vegetables and avoiding saturated fats.
- Opt for whole grains in the usual diet: brown rice, whole wheat pasta.
- Eat red meat maximum 1 time a week.
- Consume fish 3-4 times a week, 2 of which must be oily fish.
- Examples of oily fish: marlin, eel, tuna, bonito del norte, sardines, anchovies or anchovies, mackerel or mackerel, horse mackerel or horse mackerel, melva, salmon…
- Cook and dress with extra virgin olive oil.
- Consume nuts between 4 and 7 times a week, 1 handful a day of natural or roasted nuts.
- Avoid sweets such as sugar, candies, cakes, pastries, sweetened fruit juices, sweetened soft drinks, etc.
Of course, in addition to an adequate diet, we must not forget the importance of practicing physical activity on a regular basis, in order to maintain a correct state of health and an adequate weight, as well as avoiding tobacco since it is a serious risk factor. in the onset and development of cardiovascular disease.
Also Read: Diet According To Nutritional Requirements