Heart Disease And The Fat Content Of Foods

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    Sep 19, 2014
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Heart Disease And The Fat Content Of Foods Photo by Seetha Neal

According to the Indian Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Indians. Heart disease is occurring at a much younger age with Indians. Men under the age of 50 years account for 50% of heart attacks among the Indian male population.  A lack of awareness, genetic predisposition for hypertension, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and stress are contributing factors. Poor diet is caused by the lack of nutrition knowledge and an increased consumption of high fat restaurant foods. The risks for heart disease can be reduced by improving public awareness with health and nutrition education. Websites and mobile apps provide free nutrition facts databases containing common foods, packaged food products, recipes, and popular restaurant menu items. Specialized websites and mobile apps offer advanced support for ethnic diets; examples include Indian cuisine nutrition information, diet tips, and personalized meal plans.

The different types of fat found in food vary in their effect on health. In addition, there is dietary cholesterol which is found in animal foods. MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acid) and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) are types of unsaturated fat; these are liquid at room temperature. There are certain essential fatty acids (belonging to the omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA groups) that we need to get from food. MUFA helps to decrease overall total blood cholesterol; it decreases LDL ("bad") cholesterol and may increase HDL ("good") cholesterol. PUFA also helps to reduce overall total blood cholesterol; it reduces both LDL and HDL. Omega-3 fats may help to lower triglyceride levels and reduce the risk for blocked arteries and hypertension. In contrast, saturated fats are solid at room temperature and increase total blood cholesterol and LDL. Trans fats are formed during the partial hydrogenation of processed foods; they increase overall total cholesterol and LDL. Understanding the fat content of foods helps to prevent and manage heart disease. Online databases provide the nutrition information of food which includes the calories, carbohydrate, protein, sodium, fiber, and fat content of foods.

Regular exercise and controlling calories also boosts cardiovascular health. Adding adequate protein and fiber to meals and snacks helps control hunger when controlling calories. Utilize handy protein content food lists that can be found on websites to plan meals. Limiting the amount of sodium in your diet is also heart healthy as it helps with controlling hypertension. Work with a dietitian to plan meals that suit your lifestyle and health condition.


Seetha N. (M.S. Computer Science, B.S. Dietetics, B.E. Computer Engineering) is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Her website provides Indian cuisine nutrition facts.

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