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Based on Statistics on Causes of Death Malaysia 2018, Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death. About 37 deaths per day due to ischaemic heart disease.  Ischaemic heart disease is also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease that caused by the buildup of plague inside the coronary arteries, resulting in partially or completely block of blood flow in the large arteries of heart. High blood pressure, obesity and high blood cholesterol particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are identified as the risk factor of this disease . It is recommended to eat healthily, being physical exercise and managing stress to prevent ischaemic heart disease. Below are the examples of heart healthy food that may help you in this.

  1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna contain omega 3 EPA and DHA which are a type unsaturated fatty acid. Our body is normally not producing sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acids and it is necessary to obtain it from fish source. American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least two times (two servings) a week for the sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Although some of the plants like flaxseed and chia seeds contains omega 3 fatty acid, it is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) type that is not as good as EPA and DHA. Hence, eating wide range of food is important. Research has shown that EPA and DHA lower cholesterol, exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, resulting in decrease risk of heart disease. However, other fish like tilapia and catfish do not give such benefits.

  1. Avocado

Avocado is rich in phytosterols and phenolics compound that enhance cardiovascular health [5]. The type of fat in avocado is mainly monounsaturated fat that helps in reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in blood while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), resulting in lower risk of heart disease [6] [7]. LDL cholesterol is perceived as bad cholesterol which shall be below certain level. But there is a type of cholesterol is good for us namely high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that shall be increased in our body.

  1. Avocado

Avocado is rich in phytosterols and phenolics compound that enhance cardiovascular health [5]. The type of fat in avocado is mainly monounsaturated fat that helps in reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in blood while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), resulting in lower risk of heart disease [6] [7]. LDL cholesterol is perceived as bad cholesterol which shall be below certain level. But there is a type of cholesterol is good for us namely high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that shall be increased in our body.

  1. Olive oil

It was observed that European-Mediterranean countries have lower rate of  cardiovascular mortality compared to other westernized countries. Reason being that people in European-Mediterranean countries normally take olive oil as their primarily source of fat [8]. Another study has also shown that monounsaturated fat in olive oil has lower the cardiovascular risk by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. [9] Besides that, the phenolic compound in olive oil protects our heart from oxidative damage [10]. However, not all olive oil are the same, virgin olive oils are richer in phenolic content than refined olive oil that can give you the benefits [10]. It is also important to make sure you use the correct olive oil for your cooking. Olive oil like extra virgin type has lower smoke point which is suitable as salad dressing but not for frying whereas light olive oil with the smoke point of 250ºC can still remain stable during deep frying.

  1. Kale

Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants which include beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Flavonoids is an antioxidants which protect heart from oxidative damage and inflammation [11]. Kale actually contains bile acid sequestrant which aid the excretion of cholesterol, resulting in lower down the cholesterol level [12]. The lower the cholesterol level, the lower the risk of heart disease.

  1. Kale

Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants which include beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Flavonoids is an antioxidants which protect heart from oxidative damage and inflammation [11]. Kale actually contains bile acid sequestrant which aid the excretion of cholesterol, resulting in lower down the cholesterol level [12]. The lower the cholesterol level, the lower the risk of heart disease.

  1. Dark Chocolate (At least 70% cocoa content)

Antioxidants in dark chocolate are polyphenols, flavanols and catechins and others. Research has shown that consumption of dark chocolate has protective effect on cardiovascular system [13]. Cocoa powder has also increase the HDL cholesterol level which is good for our heart [14] However, compound chocolate (which does not contain cocoa butter) and added high amount of sugar might not provide the benefits as mentioned. It is important to choose the chocolate which contains coca butter, at least 70% cocoa content and minimal amount of sugar for the maximum benefits of it [15].

  1. Whole grain

Whole-grain foods contain many phytochemicals, including fiber and antioxidants, that may reduce chronic disease risk [16]. Study has shown that increase of whole grains like barley, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat and others may protect us against coronary heart disease [17]. Fiber rich whole grain food helps to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, resulting in lower risk of heart attack [18].

  1. Whole grain

Whole-grain foods contain many phytochemicals, including fiber and antioxidants, that may reduce chronic disease risk [16]. Study has shown that increase of whole grains like barley, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat and others may protect us against coronary heart disease [17]. Fiber rich whole grain food helps to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, resulting in lower risk of heart attack [18].

Taking fat moderately and also the correct fat which doesn’t harm you but help you to protect your heart. However, people nowadays have taken excessive omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid from fast food that link to diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory. It is not just increasing your omega 3 intake by eating those heart healthy foods mentioned above, individual should also reduce omega 6 intake by reducing fast food intake in order to maintain a lower ratio of omega 6/ omega 3 fatty acid to keep our body healthy [19].

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