Every year 29th September is celebrated as" World Heart Day" by the World Heart Federation  along with the WHO.This year's theme for the World Heart Day is "My Heart, Your Heart". It means that I take care of my heart and the heart of my loved ones.

Cardiovascular diseases (diseases related to heart and blood vessels)have reached epidemic proportions and hence heart health assumes utmost significance today,more so because these diseases are generally morbid. But the good news is that these are also preventable!

HOW?......Let's see.

1) Eat Smart For a Healthy Heart

Dietary changes along with smart choices is the foremost step to a healthy heart.

       a]Choose your fats wisely:

*Limit your use of saturated fat(butter, cream, red meat)

*Avoid trans-fat totally.Simple tip is to check labels for "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients list.

*Choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, peanut oil and other vegetable oils, polyunsaturated fats found mainly in nuts and seeds and omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.

*Choose low fat dairy products.

      b]Have a protein rich diet: Proteins obtained from lean meats, beans ,lentils and eggs are preferable.Pulses,peas and beans  are also a rich source of fibre which is essential to keep your cholesterol in check.

     c]Serve the right carbohydrates: Select your carb source from whole grains like brown rice,oats,millets and sweet potatoes and avoid refined sources like plain flour,white rice, white bread and cane sugar.

     d]Load up on fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.These contain fibre that helps control cholesterol,heart healthy vitamins and anti-oxidants (Vit A,B,C) that protect your heart and minerals like potassium that keeps your blood pressure in check.Green leafy vegetables are good source of Vit.B, Yellow and orange coloured fruits and veggies provide Vit.A .Lemon,oranges,amla,guava provide the Vit. C and Potassium can be obtained from coconut water, banana and sweet lime.

      e]Cooking method matters: Baking, roasting, grilling and steaming are healthier methods of food preparation.Avoid deep-frying and barbequing.

Dietary Restrictions:What to avoid/limit as far as your diet is concerned:

Sodium:Recommended intake of salt is 2.3 gms/day. Pickles, papad, ready-to-eat food packs,salted snacks and ketchups are high sodium containing foods and are best avoided. Instead of salt use spices and herbs to season and flavour your food.

Alcohol:Excess of alcohol can lead to weight gain and increase in blood pressure.Practicing moderation is the key here.

Smoking:Tobacco in any form constricts your blood vessels leading to raised blood pressure.So "Quit Smoking" today to have a healthy heart.

Added Sugar: Sodas,energy drinks, desserts, squashes, jams, jellies, sherbets and packaged fruit juices are all loaded with sugar. Sugar is the main culprit in weight gain hence these calorie laden foods are best avoided.

2) Be Active To Keep Your Heart Pumping

Exercising for 150 mins/week helps keep weight in check,lowers blood pressure,unclogs your arteries and thereby reduces your risk of heart diseases.High-intensity aerobic exercises like jogging,swimmimg,dancing or cycling on a regular basis with occasional strength training is recommended for a strong heart.

3)Destress To Keep Your Heart Happy

With an increase in pollution around you and work related pressures,stress levels are at an all time high. Practising Yoga and meditation help you get a handle on them. 6-8 hours of peaceful night sleep  is beneficial. Spending time with your loved ones in a gadget -free environment is also helpful. These are the stress busters that help lower your blood pressure and in turn protect your heart.

Heart-beat  signifies the presence of life in a human body.So,on this "World Heart Day"let us all pledge to take care of our heart and keep it strong,healthy and ticking.