heart diseases

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Unhealthy eating habits, stress, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to placing a load on the heart and preventing it from functioning normally. This can lead to devastating consequences.

Ayurveda regards the heart as one of the three main marmas (vital organs). “According to Ayurveda, a holistic approach to a healthy heart is not just looking after the physical organ but also paying attention to its emotional side”, says Dr.Gaurang Joshi, International Ayurveda Consultant. While unhealthy lifestyle choices damage the physical heart, unwanted mental and emotional stress affects the emotional heart. The basis of a fully functional heart rests on a healthy circulation which keeps the heart beating, ensures the transport of nutrients across the body and protects us from diseases.

In order to guarantee unhindered circulation, the path of the blood through the vessels should be free of obstruction. Diet and lifestyle play an important role in maintaining the flexibility of the blood vessels and keeping the heart fit.

There are ten things you can add your diet to make it a heart-friendly one.

1. Oregano: Oregano is a rich source of Vitamin C and helps in controlling cholesterol and dietary fiber. The anti-oxidant properties of Vitamin C ward off the circulating free radicals or charged molecules that cause undesired reactions in the body, thereby protecting the heart. Inflammation is a root cause of many chronic conditions and sufficient evidence supports the idea that some chronic inflammation exist in coronary artery disease (CAD). Oregano is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds which can help fight CAD.[6]

2. Green tea: Green tea has been used for centuries for its purported benefits. Studies have suggested that green tea increases the health and function of the cells lining the blood vessels of the heart [7]. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) and other substances present in green tea protect the heart against the dangers of oxidation and hence prevent the buildup of cholesterol against the walls of the arteries. [5]

3. Hawthorn: Experts hail Hawthorn as a ‘circulatory superstar’, which contains a combination of flavonoids that protects the heart against oxygen deprivation and development of abnormal heart rhythms. It also dilates the coronary arteries and strengthens the cardiac muscles.

4. Onions: Onion is a rich source of ‘adenosine’oand other blood thinners which fights against formation of blood clots. Eating half a raw onion every day can help keep the coronary arteries open and clear by increasing the HDL.

5. Terminalia or arjuna: Arjuna has an important place in Ayurveda. It functions as a coronary vasodilator and helps to maintain the health of the heart muscle. It also strengthens blood circulation and protects against heart attack .

6. Garlic: Scientific trials reveal that garlic can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raise high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL, the good cholesterol), reduce the formation of plaque in carotid arteries and provide protection against aging in the all-important aorta–the cardiac blood vessel responsible for maintaining blood flow and pressure with every heartbeat. [2]

7. Turmeric: The common ingredient of all “Indian curries”, this wonder root lowers blood cholesterol levels by stimulating the production of bile. It also prevents the formation of dangerous blood clots that can lead to a heart attack. [2]

8. Alfalfa: The leaves and sprouts of this plant help in reducing blood cholesterol levels and prevent the deposit of plaques on the walls of the arteries. [3]

9. Ginger: This rhizome comes with a package full of benefits for the heart. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest that including ginger in your everyday diet can help acquire protection against heart attacks. It also lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. [4]

10. Lavender: Lavender oil is widely known for its antiseptic, antibacterial and sedative properties. Its balancing effects help strengthen the heart’s cardiac muscles, which improves contraction and relaxation of the heart’s arteries and ventricles. Its sedative properties also help reduce palpitations and general hypertension. [3]

1. Walden R, Tomlinson B. Cardiovascular Disease. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press; 2011. Chapter 16. PubMed PMID: 22593934.

2. Ma Y, Zhang M, Ma S, Wang Y, Gao J, Wang H, Yu X. [New idea of treatment of heart failure with traditional Chinese medical]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2011 Nov;36(22):3210-2. Review. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 22375410.

3. Liu LT, Chen KJ. [Ancient and modern application of aromatic herbs for activating yang in preventing and treating coronary heart disease angina]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2013 Aug;33(8):1013-7. Chinese. PubMed PMID:24325046.

4. Liu Q, Liu J, Guo H, Sun S, Wang S, Zhang Y, Li S, Qiao Y. [6]-gingerol: a novel AT₁ antagonist for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Planta Med.2013 Mar;79(5):322-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1328262. Epub 2013 Mar 11. PubMed PMID: 23479389.

5. Hayat K, Iqbal H, Malik U, Bilal U, Mushtaq S. TEA AND ITS CONSUMPTION:BENEFITS AND RISKS. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Sep 20.[Epub ahead of print PubMed PMID: 24915350.

6. Hansson GK. Inflammation, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease. N Engl J Med. 2005 Apr 21;352(16):1685-95. Review. PubMed PMID: 15843671.

7. Wang ZM, Gao W, Wang H, Zhao D, Nie ZL, Shi JQ, Zhao S, Lu X, Wang LS,Yang ZJ. Green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibits TNF-α-induced production of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014;33(5):1349-58. doi: 10.1159/000358702. Epub 2014 May 5. PubMed PMID: 24852948.

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