A healthy diet is good for your overall health and especially your heart.

According to WHO, in 2016 out of the 143,000 deaths in Sri Lanka, 34 percent was caused by cardiovascular diseases.

Although long term medicine manages heart disease, food plays a significant role in affecting LDL, HDL and triglycerides levels of cholesterol. Hence, heart-healthy food found in your local market can help you achieve a sustainable diet to complement your medicines.

  1. Karapincha (Curry Leaves)

Karapincha is a versatile herb used in many local dishes. Firstly, it adds undeniable flavor, aroma and colour to curries. But most importantly, the antioxidants in this aromatic herb helps lowering your blood cholesterol. The curry leaf prevents the oxidation of cholesterol that forms LDL (harmful cholesterol), thus protecting your body from heart and atherosclerosis.

2. Wattakka Kola (Pumpkin Leaves)

Pumpkin leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, which improves vision, skin, hair, bones and teeth. It also provides iron and protein. Moreover, pumpkin leaves help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Additionally, the calcium in it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, it is quite easy to cook a salad with pumpkin leaves. Thus, it is a delicious dish to couple with brown rice for lunch.

3. Local Pomegranates

Globally coveted for its multitude of health benefits, pomegranate needs no introduction on a healthy food list. However, if you can access locally grown, organic pomegranates, it is even better. These are not only highly nutritious but also cheaper than the imported pomegranates. Furthermore, pomegranate is 85 percent water and 10 percent sugar. However, it is high in antioxidants.

Meanwhile, pomegranate juice is a delicious drink to add to your diet. It helps to reduce the effect of oxidative damage on LDL (bad) cholesterol. In addition to this, studies also reveal that it slows down plaque buildup. Likewise, the juice results in antiplatelet activities. This implies that it safeguards the heart from forming blood clots, which may otherwise block the arteries. Not to mention, this is an easy juice recipe. All you need is a blender to crush the seeds. Thereafter, pour the pulp over a sieve to squeeze out every bit of nutrition from this delightful fruit.

4. Coconut Oil

This is one of the most easily found products in the local market. According to numerous studies, coconut oil is attributed to increasing HDL (good) cholesterol level whilst at the same time, reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol. As a result, it reduces the risk of heart disease.

Subsequently, including coconut oil in meals is not tricky. For instance, creating any of the salads with heart-healthy leafy green veggies requires a little bit of oil to sauté. Hence, coconut oil can be substituted for vegetable oil. Moreover, coconut oil helps to maintain dental health and achieve hair growth. However, moderation is very important when it comes to any form of food, especially the fats you include in your diet.

5. Omega-3 in Fish

Sri Lanka, as an island is bountiful with a large fishing community that brings in fresh catch every day. This suggests that including fish in your diet is not a hard task. However, knowing which type of fish to buy is key. Furthermore, Omega-3 is a type of unsaturated fatty acids. It is useful to control triglycerides, blood clotting and most importantly, the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Therefore, adults are recommended to include at least 2 servings of fish per week. The following are rich in Omega-3:

Meanwhile, supplements with Omega-3 fatty acids are a suitable alternative. For instance, Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil. These pills use extracts from oily fish, similar to those found in flaxseed oil and walnut oil. Moreover, these help to keep your heart, brain and vision healthy.

Overall, the tropical island life has much to offer for a healthy lifestyle. Despite this, there are high risk factors present here. For instance, air pollution, diabetes, obesity and high sodium intake. Moreover, a sedentary lifestyle, and tobacco and alcohol consumption are rampant in the society. This raises the fatality rates associated with stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

However, regular medical care with a committed e-pharmacy to deliver medicine to your doorstep is one step further towards your health goals. Likewise, meal planning using locally available food and physical activity are other essential elements for an optimal heart health.

References

WHO (2016) Sri Lanka: risk of premature death due to NCD (%). Available at:

https://www.who.int

Healthline (2020) 9 benefits and uses of curry leaves. Available at:

https://www.healthline.com

Fernandes, G. C. (2016) ‘Health benefits of pumpkin leaves’, Femina India, 9 August. Available at:          

https://www.femina.in

Harvard Health Publishing (2007) Pomegranates for the prostrate and the heart: seeds of hope. Available at:

https://www.health.harvard.edu

Healthline (2020) Top 10 evidence based health benefits of coconut oil. Available at:

https://www.healthline.com

Mayo Clinic (2019) Omega-3 in fish: how eating fish helps your heart. Available at:

https://www.mayoclinic.org

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