Indian food is by itself very healthy. Our traditional Indian diet pattern is filled with vegetables, fruits, lentils, nuts and whole grains making the meal extremely heart healthy. Indeed, there is no need to look elsewhere for healthy food or incorporate fancy foodstuffs like olive oil or avocados for a healthy diet. We have everything that we need right here in our country – locally grown, fresh and healthy!
Exercise, diet and lifestyle patterns all play a significant role in keeping a person’s heart healthy. A healthy diet can reduce the risk of a person developing a heart disease by 35% and the risk is further diminished by 70% when the person follows a good lifestyle as well. It is to be kept in mind that working out alone is not enough and following a proper diet is of paramount importance.
So, what constitutes a heart healthy diet? Does it mean patients at risk of heart disease are doomed to a life of bland food and boring diet choices? Of course not! Indian food options with their plethora of flavours, colours and choices definitely rule out a monotonous diet plan. Let us take a look at a heart healthy meal plan which is tasty and satiating as well.
Also Read: Tests for heart disease
Heart Healthy Meal Plan
Meal 1: As Soon as You Wake up
Start your day with nuts – maybe around 4-6 almonds and 2 Walnuts. Follow this up with a glass of warm water with a few drops of lemon juice. Drinking coffee or tea as soon as you wake up on an empty stomach is best avoided.
6 almonds – 42 kcal
2 walnuts – 18 kcal
Meal 2: Breakfast
For breakfast, two oats idlis with mint chutney are a good option. Oats are good antioxidants and they help in reducing cholesterol. Alternatively, you could also have a cup of upma cooked with green peas. Peas being rich in potassium are very good for the heart.
For a non-vegetarian breakfast option, 2 egg whites cooked in any way preferable (except fried) with 2 slices of brown bread are a good choice.
1 oats idli – 30 kcal
1 tablespoon of mint chutney – 12 kcal
1 cup of upma – 192 kcal
1 egg white – 17 kcal
1 slice of brown bread – 74 kcal
Meal 3: Mid-Morning
Now would be a good time to have a fruit. An apple, orange or guava would be a good choice. A glass of tender coconut water besides being healthy would be tasty and refreshing as well and is a good mid-morning thirst quencher.
1 fruit is typically around 50-70 kcal
1 cup of tender coconut water – 45 kcal
Meal 4: Lunch
Vegetable pulao /biryani made with brown rice accompanied by a cucumber-carrot-onion raitha and a bowl of mixed vegetable salad will not only be filled with flavour but will fill the stomach as well. Another meal option would be 3 medium-sized chapatis with dhaal or drumstick sambhar. This can be enjoyed with a cooked vegetable of choice and a salad.
For a non-vegetarian option, replace the dhaal with chicken or fish. It can be in the grilled or curry form but not fried.
1 cup of cooked brown rice – 216 kcal
1 bowl of raita – 75 kcal
1 bowl of salad – 30 kcal
1 chapati – 80-120 kcal depending on size
1 bowl of sambhar – 130 kcal
1 bowl of cooked vegetable – 70 kcal
100 g of chicken – 165 kcal
100 g of fish – 109 kcal
Meal 5: Evening Snack
A glass of buttermilk is extremely tasty and healthy. For diabetics, sugar is best avoided and plain buttermilk is preferable. If something solid is preferred, then a cup of Red Rice Flakes or a fruit (like watermelon) can be had.
1 cup of buttermilk – 99 kcal
1 cup of Red Rice Flakes – 100 kcal
1 cup of diced watermelon – 46 kcal
Meal 6: Dinner
The last meal of the day is best had early and light. A bowl of whole grain upma or kichidi with vegetable Sambar. Alternative option with 2 multi-grain rotis and cooked dhal. To avoid hunger pangs before sleeping, a glass of skim milk (without sugar) with a bit of turmeric in it can do wonders.
1 bowl of whole grain upma – 240 kcal
1 bowl of sambhar – 130 kcal
1 bowl of cooked dhaal – 104 kcal
1 multigrain roti – 135 kcal
1 glass of skim milk – 108 kcal
Also Read: How to eat healthy without starving?
A Few Pointers to Keep in Mind
- Add fenugreek seeds to your food whenever possible. Besides reducing cholesterol, fenugreek is considered good for the heart.
- For hard core non-vegetarians, lean meat, fish and chicken can be had but consumption should be limited to 2 servings a day.
- Choose a cooking oil that is rich in essential fatty acids. Our Indian cooking oils, whichever are available in the market, are all good choices. Go for a variety of oils, for example if you are using groundnut oil, Sesame oil replace it with sunflower oil during your next buy.
- Limit salt intake to around 2 mg. This might sound difficult but indeed it is for the best and you will get used to it with time.
- Stop junk food completely. A fruit is always preferred to chips and other snacks when hunger strikes between meals.
- Avoid eating outside. Home cooked food made with fresh local produce is always the best choice.
- Use brown rice rather than white rice.
- Choose fresh fruits rather than canned fruits or juice. Raw foods contain more fiber than processed ones.
- Eat foods in their most naturally occurring state.
- Coconut should be avoided.
- Spices have anti-lipidemic effects. They reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides level.
Remember, you are what you eat. Make healthy diet choices and enjoy a healthy and happy life!
Note: This is a sample diet plan. Be sure to consult a doctor and get a customized diet plan according to your requirements.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
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