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Health 2valentines-day icon

Valentine’s Day will see couples out on romantic,    candle-lit dinners, exchanging boxes of chocolates and indulging in scrumptious desserts. But remember, while the heart symbolises Valentine’s Day, there is no excuse for ignoring your own heart. And the best way to care for it is by ensuring that you exercise regularly and watch what you eat!

Here are five heart-healthy super foods that you should incorporate into your diet:

Flaxseeds. High in omega-6 fatty acids, flaxseeds minimise the chances of strokes by maintaining healthy arteries. Flaxseed oil is believed to reduce triglycerides (fats) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Oatmeal. A steaming bowl of oatmeal is rich in avenanthramide, folate and potassium, all of which are believed to reduce the occurrence of vascular and coronary diseases, as well as heart attacks. Oatmeal is a good source of fibre which reduces levels of LDL (bad cholesterol).

Oysters. With high levels of potassium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, oysters contain nutrients that reduce blood pressure, arterial inflammation and cholesterol levels. They are a good source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against cardiovascular disease.

Salmon. With high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is believed to aid heart health, reduce the incidence of arrhythmias and bad cholesterol levels. It is a good source of lean protein and therefore helps strengthen the heart muscles.

Soy. Beneficial to overall cardio health because it is high in polyunsaturated (good) fats, low in saturated fats and is cholesterol-free, soy maintains heart health by improving blood vessel elasticity. It is a good source of peptides, which stop excess cholesterol production in the liver and remove bad cholesterol from the bloodstream.

– Dr Beenish Israr
The writer is lecturer of Food and Nutrition at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Fist published in the Health Advertiser of THE DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 9, 2014.