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Posted at: Jan 14, 2017, 1:51 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2017, 1:51 AM (IST)WELLNESS

Keep that blood flowing

How your blood clots is one of the major factors that decide your heart’s health

Natural thinners

  • Increase intake of folic acid, which is found in leafy vegetables, most dals, whole pulses and fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, surmai and sardines. Folic acid helps reduce homocysteine levels. High level of homocystein determines probability of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Crush garlic and cook it lightly with tomatoes in a teaspoon of olive or groundnut oil. Spread the paste on a slice of whole wheat bread or a whole wheat khakra (oil-free) and have it for breakfast along with a glass of vegetable juice made from ½ raw onion, 2 carrots and 2 tomatoes. An anti-coagulant compound called ‘ajoene’, which is present in garlic, is released in the presence of heat and acidic food like tomatoes.
  • Regular and moderate intake of red wine or black grape juice seems to promote anti-coagulant activity discouraging heart disease.
Keep that blood flowing

Anjali Mukerjee

Whether you are a male or a female, heart attack is the most common cause of premature death. People think of heart disease as a male affliction because the symptoms show up eight to 10 years earlier in men than in women. But women tend to ‘catch up’ soon after menopause.

Most diets designed to prevent cardiovascular disease have one primary goal — ‘lowering your cholesterol levels’. But this is just one amongst a number of ways to protect your heart, it is a slow procedure and it may not be the most important one. If all adults were to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet only, the number of deaths from heart disease would be much higher. For ultimate protection, you need to reduce 

other risk factors as well, the most important of which is the way your blood clots. This is the single greatest determinant of whether you will suffer a heart attack or a stroke. The viscosity of the blood, its stickiness and its tendency to from clots are important factors that can be averted to save you from cardiovascular tragedies.

The therapeutic effect of foods on heart disease has more to do with blood clotting factors than with blood cholesterol. It usually takes longer to cut your heart risks by lowering cholesterol; however, you can reduce your chances of heart attack by preventing clots. This could be achieved by consuming foods such as garlic, ginger, raw onions, green chillies, capsicum, green tea, raw vegetables, flaxseed oil, olive oil, dry red wine, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, asprin and vitamin E supplements. Some foods such as garlic and onions and raw vegetables do both the jobs i.e. reduce blood clots as well as lower cholesterol so that you can get double benefit. In contrast, certain foods encourage clot formation — namely high fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and animal protein as in mutton, pork, steak, fried foods, maida-based fried snacks such as samosa, kachoris, pizza, burgers and excessive alcohol intake.

All the clot-busting foods mentioned above function on the common principle — they tend to thin the blood by suppressing platelet clumping, depress fibrinogen levels (high blood level of fibrinogen is a predictor of heart disease) and improve clot dissolving activity. The anti-clotting effect happens almost immediately i.e. within three to four hours of eating them. Therefore, when such foods are eaten regularly in small quantities, they can have a powerful pharmacological effect on your blood clots and save you from a tragedy.

— The writer is a nutritionist and founder director Health Total

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