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Here's how to avoid heart problems

health-and-fitness Updated: Jun 11, 2013 13:47 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Hindustan Times
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Which are the foods that increase the risk of heartburn? What fruits should I avoid?

You must avoid acid-forming foods like alcohol, coffee, legumes, lentils, cornstarch, white flour, dried coconut, cheese, cakes, pastries, pasta, soft drinks, sugar, vinegar and pickles. These items weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and allow the contents to regurgitate into the food pipe. Also, avoid sour fruits like oranges, sweet lime and grapefruit, and their juices. However, food is not the only factor that can cause heartburn. Stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeinated and carbonated beverages may all lead to heartburn.

Is there any home remedy for treating heartburn?

Drink cabbage juice if you have heartburn. Eat three to four bananas a day. A teaspoon of ajwain (carom seeds) boiled in one cup of water with lime juice and a pinch of rock salt also helps reduce gas and heartburn.

After your meal, take a 10 minute walk. Also, avoid lying on the bed for at least three hours after your meal. Eating cucumber, jaggery and drinking cumin seed boiled in a glass of water are also helpful.

Blood clotting is a problem for those with heart issues. What kind of foods can help reduce unnecessary blood clots?

Quitting smoking, controlling obesity and improving your diet can help reduce the risk of problematic blood clotting. People whose diets are low in essential fatty acids, vegetables, fish, nutrients and antioxidants are usually at a higher risk for clots. A healthy diet with high-fibre and low-cholesterol foods, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can help prevent blood clots. In addition, foods as garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric can reduce platelet stickiness and formation of clots.

Cayenne, found in capsicum, raw onion, red wine, black mushroom, fish oils and garam masala are potent blood thinners. Besides food, moderate exercise helps keep off extra weight and improves circulation, both of which help reduce risk factors for formation of blood clots.

What is the difference between bad and good cholesterol and how do they affect the heart? What kind of diet helps maintain the balance?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance. The liver makes cholesterol and this is carried by proteins called lipoprotein. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is lower in protein density, carries more fatty acids and is therefore more prone to oxidation. It delivers cholesterol to the tissues. If you do not consume sufficient antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E,

selenium, it can get oxidised very fast and starts depositing on the arterial walls, thus increasing risk to heart disease. For this reason, it’s called the bad cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, on the other hand, is higher in protein density and carries less fatty acids. It picks up excess cholesterol left by LDL and brings it back to the liver or to the tissues that need it. Hence, it is called the good cholesterol.

When the ratio of LDL is more than HDL, you need to correct your diet. Eat less refined foods, cheese, white bread, sweets, chocolate, cakes, ice creams, whole milk and fried items. Eat fish (not fried), good fats found in rice bran oil, olive oil, ground nut oil, avocados, raw onion, garlic, almonds, complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee

is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.