Heart healthy Diet in a nut-shell

By Dr Harold Gunatillake

This Mantra should be registered in your memory – both partners preparing daily foods for them. Forget the diet fads around and learn the basics- you’ll not go wrong.

The bottom line of a heart healthy diet is one that’s high in fruits (diabetics should restrict), dark vegetables (green leafy), whole grains (unprocessed rice and wheat products), legumes (lentils), and include less than a handful of nuts daily.

The diet may include limited amounts of lean meat, fish twice a week, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, monounsaturated oils like olive oil and polyunsaturated oils of omega-3 types like canola, and flaxseed oil, and saturated virgin coconut oil (disputed) for cooking. Limit using polyunsaturated omega-6 type of oils like vegetable and corn oils for cooking, saturated (butter) and trans-fat (margarine), less added salt, and sugars other than the natural, and processed refined grains like white rice and white bread. Avoid routine deserts like ice cream, fruit salads with added sugar, puddings and cakes.

Added sugar is found in many foods. Refined sugar is addictive, more addictive than heroin and cocaine Chinese cuisines are full of added sugars. Mongolian lamb is a good example.

Be wary of preparing un-healthy foods from TV food demonstrations, nutritional fads including antioxidant supplements and juicing (consume them whole).

Make those outdoor eating food lifestyles in restaurants and street foods to a minimum.

High fibre diets

Focus on eating more foods containing high fibre. These are found in plants and not in any kind of meat. The skeleton of every plant to stay erect is due to a fibrous framework. There are two varieties of fibre- soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre functions to bulk the stools for easy movement, but the soluble fibre plays an important role in ours and microbial health in the gut.

Indeed, the evidence shows that if people do not eat too much meat, and they increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and legumes in their diet, they are more likely to have a healthy microbial ecosystem. Human gut has no mechanism to digest soluble fibre. The good microbes in the large bowel break down insoluble and soluble fibre and produce short chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are abundant and higher levels are found in the guts of the vegans and the vegetarians, as well as those who eat a Mediterranean diet. They are produced by Bifidobacterium by digesting the dietary fibre in the colon. These fatty acids stimulate the growth of the immune cells that control inflammation.

On the other hand those who eat more red meat, eggs and dairy the gut bacteria seem to produce higher levels of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). These chemicals cause blood vessel inflammation, linked to increase heart disease and studies done in people with heart disease have shown higher levels of the chemical causing blood clots.

Conclusions: Move towards a plant based diet (vegetarians), keep your weight within the normal range, and walk 10,000 steps a day or gym work-outs for a happy contended long life.

Work yourself daily to avoid risk factors that cause heart disease. Getting a heart attack and having open heart surgery has its risk factors. Remember the blood leading to the heart is clamped and is diverted through a machine to maintain oxygenated blood circulation. At the end of the procedure, when the clamps are released the chances of a blood clot getting dislodged and the incidence of having a stroke and death are high.

Bill Paxton’s Death Showcases Heart Surgery’s Dangers.


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