Heart-Friendly Foods for Vegetarians

vegetarian foods that will keep your heart fit and fab.

Berries
Berries like strawberries and cranberries are rich in antioxidants. “Antioxidants reduce the risk of heart disease,” says Consultant Dietician Sunita Dube. Antioxidants also help in reducing stress and thus prevents high blood pressure.
Other sources of antioxidants are tomatoes, red bell peppers, prunes and green tea. “Fruits with high water content, like watermelon are also recommended as they contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant),” says Naini.

Nuts
Nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios are a good source of protein, fibre and are cholesterol-free. “They provide your body with the ‘good’ fat or monounsaturated fat that increase HDL or the good cholesterol which keeps your heart healthy,” says Sunita.

Seeds
“Include a good amount of seeds (up to 2 table spoons) like flax seeds (alsi), sunflower seeds (chironji) and pumpkin seeds (kaddu beej) in your diet,” says Naini. These are a good source of vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant. They also help lower cholesterol levels. They are a good source of minerals like magnesium, copper and selenium that help calm you nerves.

Lentils
Lentils like white chickpeas (kabuli chana) and red kidney beans (rajma) are a healthy source of protein and dietary fibre. “Fibre helps in reducing cholesterol, thus preventing heart-related problems,” says Naini. “They are also a good source of iron, vitamin B1 and folate,” says Sunita.

Green Leafy Vegetables
Greens! We can’t stop telling you how good they are for your health. Vegetables like spinach, fenugreek and broccoli are rich in iron and “powerful antioxidants that protect your heart against cholesterol,” says Nutritionist Naini Setalvad. They are also a good source of iron, magnesium and calcium.

Garlic
Raw garlic is a good source of antioxidants and “helps lower cholesterol levels,” says Naini. It also helps lower high blood pressure.
Turmeric is a heart-friendly spice too. It improves blood circulation thus preventing clots and preventing heart attacks.

Oils
Include a healthy amount of mustard oil and coconut oil in your diet. “Mustard oil has the same properties of olive oil and so can easily replace it,” says Naini. It contains monosaturated fats that lower the amount of bad cholesterol. “Limited use of coconut oil helps prevent heart attacks as it is a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant,” says Naini. Ghee, if used in moderation, helps lower cholesterol too.

“Combine a healthy diet with 30 minutes of exercise like skipping, running, walking, or aerobics combined with meditation everyday to keep heart diseases at bay,” says Sunita.

(Disclaimer: These foods help keep you heart healthy. However, have them in moderation and please consult your nutritionist, cardiologist and general physician before making any dietary changes.)
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