According to nutritionist Dr. Darina Angelova, in order to avoid a heart attack and stroke, we must be aware that the basis of cardiovascular diseases is the process of atherosclerosis - clogging of the arteries with plaques of cholesterol, calcium and saturated fats. Exactly these effects of atherosclerosis can be avoided through a proper diet
Dr. Angelova, what are Bulgarians doing wrong in their lifestyle and diet?
- For the most part, Bulgarians eat mostly foods that contain cholesterol and saturated fat. They are the main cause of plaque formation on the blood vessels. Smoking, oxidative stress in the body, eating a lot of fried and fatty foods also contribute to the faster deposition of plaques in the arteries, which injures the walls of the blood vessels. Severe stressful moments in everyday life also contribute to the adhesion of atherosclerotic plaques, which increases the acidity of the blood. When we have blockage of the arteries above 70%, angina (chest frog) is already present. From a large drop of fat, or when the plaque dissolves and spills its contents into a blood vessel of the heart, an acute incident occurs, which we call a myocardial infarction. And when it happens in the brain vessels, we have a stroke.
The main problem is food with high cholesterol and saturated fat. These are all animal foods - meat and meat products, dairy products, especially cheese, yellow cheese, egg yolks, butter, bacon, lard.
In contrast, plant foods do not contain a milligram of cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in all five food groups of the "Third Millennium Diet": fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains. In them, the fats are unsaturated, there are very small amounts of saturated fats. But if we fry with them, if we put a lot of oil in the pans, during heat treatment the unsaturated fats become saturated.
What are normal blood cholesterol values?
- In Bulgaria, the norm for normal cholesterol over the years began to decrease and approach the norm accepted in the world, but it has not yet reached the safe level. The norm was 7.5, then 6.5 - 6.2 - 5.9, now in some laboratories the norm is indicated as 5.2. But the truly safe cholesterol level is below 4.1 mmol/L
Triglycerides have their ideal norm in the blood - below 1.1. These indicators in the blood should be monitored regularly in people who eat mostly animal foods. And not just old people. It also happens that young people aged 20 - 25 get heart accidents.
What are the risk factors for cardiovascular events?
- 11 risk factors for heart attacks and strokes have been identified. The first five of them are related to nutrition. The first factor is high cholesterol, the second is high triglycerides.
The third is excess weight, which leads to the development of metabolic syndrome. It develops diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, triglycerides, high uric acid values. A bouquet of socially significant diseases is developing.
The fourth factor is high blood pressure, which is also related to poor nutrition. S alt also contributes to hypertension because 1 gram of s alt retains 200 grams of water in the blood, which raises blood pressure.
The fifth factor is diabetes mellitus, especially the second type, which occurs in over 90% of diabetics.
The following three risk factors for heart attack and stroke are related to unhe althy habits - smoking, immobility and stress. The last three risk factors are gender, genes and age. Men more often develop cardiovascular diseases. With a genetic predisposition, a person does not necessarily get sick if he eats right, moves enough and does not smoke. As we age, the accumulation of plaque in the vessels increases and with it the risk of a cardiovascular incident.
Atherosclerosis begins to develop from the age of 30 and over the years the plaques become more. But the good news is that even if plaques have already formed and the vessels are seriously narrowed and blocked, the plaques can be significantly melted if we exclude for a year all animal foods and include in our diet lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and cereals. In this way, the risk of heart attack and stroke will be minimized. - How should people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke eat? - They should eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water. But not coffee, alcohol and soft drinks with a lot of sugar, but soft drinks, herbal tea and clean water. Flax water (from boiled linseed) is very useful, it alkalizes the blood and helps to melt the plaques. For these patients, it is imperative that they do not take even small amounts of unhe althy foods with a lot of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. It has been experimentally proven that reducing their amount does not prevent possible coronary accidents. When they are completely excluded from nutrition, a natural process of plaque dissolution begins.
For patients who have already had one or two vascular accidents, legumes, potatoes and whole grain brown rice are very suitable.
Specify a sample menu for such patients
- For breakfast, it is good to eat a large amount of fruit, especially apples and kiwis, which contain 7 to 10 times more vitamin C than lemons. In addition, there is a substance similar to aspirin in kiwi that prevents the formation of blood clots. Aspirin is not recommended because it irritates the lining of the stomach and the entire digestive system. Aspirin also has an allergic effect. Therefore, it is better to replace it with one to three kiwi fruits.
It is good to have a grain part in breakfast - boiled wheat, bulgur, oatmeal. If the digestive system is more sensitive or inflammatory processes are present, well-boiled oats, millet, buckwheat, spelled are recommended. The wheat is boiled for two hours and left to swell in the water until the morning. A larger quantity can be boiled for 3-4 days and reheated for the day. In the wheat, we can add pieces of fruit, dates, dark raisins, coconut shavings and some nuts - walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peeled sunflower, pumpkin seeds. Nuts should be in a small amount if we are overweight. They are otherwise beneficial with their unsaturated fatty acids, but they are very high in calories and two-thirds of the calories are fat. Therefore, 5-10 almonds or 2-3 walnuts are added to the wheat according to the excess weight. When it is very large, no nuts are eaten for a while.
For lunch we have a big nice salad with as little s alt as possible. Potassium s alt is preferable for hypertensives. I recommend Himalayan s alt to other patients because it contains 86 minerals, while sodium chloride - white s alt - has only two minerals - sodium and chlorine. In the salad, we put high-quality olive oil or cold-pressed oil (charlan), which is sold in all he alth food stores and in large retail chains. Season the salad with plenty of lemon juice. It is important to chew well until it becomes a pulp
We should drool well even liquids. In the beginning, we may eat half of the salad to fill the volume of the stomach and leave no room for the cooked dishes.
And what are the cooked dishes?
- You can cook with potatoes 2-3 times a week. For diabetics, potatoes are always peeled and cooked with vegetables, lots of salad and no bread. Legumes are especially useful for people with diabetes - beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, soybeans. Combinations of vegetables can be cooked - for example, fresh cabbage with tomatoes and some brown rice, roasted zucchini, peppers, eggplants. We can make sarmi and stuffed peppers with whole grain rice or rice with mushrooms, with spinach, with zucchini, risotto. The menu is varied and tasty, with no cholesterol in it.
If you eat bread, it should be 1-2 slices and must be whole grain - bonus, wheat, graham and 100 grains. Recently, they have also started producing spelled bread, which is also very useful. We can also add some natural brown olives to lunch. My recommendation is that they should be more s alt-free, to be soured.
For dinner, when the weight is normal, we can eat again a large salad and a small amount cooked from lunch. The rule is: breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, dinner like a pauper. Dinner should be light so that the stomach can be completely emptied so as not to put pressure on the heart. Thus, the body will rest all night long.
Can something be eaten between main meals?
- Nothing should be eaten between meals except drinking water, tea, and fresh carrot, apple, beetroot, pumpkin, and other vegetables and fruits. It is good not to add honey. To prevent heart attacks and strokes, sugar should be minimized or eliminated, as it contributes to the rise of cholesterol and the development of excess weight. We can replace it with good honey, sweet dried fruits, dates and raisins.
Fluids help dissolve plaques and keep the red blood cells in a good state in the blood, where they are free-floating and not stuck together and prone to forming clots. Their sticking together happens when we eat fatty foods and don't drink enough fluids. When erythrocytes stick to each other, the amount of oxygen they bring to the brain is greatly reduced.
The norm of the amount of liquid to drink daily is the weight of a person multiplied by 30. For example, if you weigh 70 kg, you should drink 2100 milliliters or 2.1 liters per day. But in order to get rid of plaques and toxins more effectively, it is better to drink 2.5 liters each.