Islam on Prevention of Heart Diseases

Prevention through certain foods

An adequate daily diet needs following ingredients to be fulfilled with below-mentioned requirements:

a. calories 2900 calories for an average man.
2200 calories for an average woman.
b. carbohydrates 400 grams.
c. minerals in the forms of sodium chloride, calcium, potassium, iron, sulphur, phosphorous, iodine and fluorine.
d. proteins 45 grams (minimum)
e. vitamins A, BI, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E.
f. fats only that amount, which can be burnt up as energy.
g. water pure and bacteria-free. It contains about 66% of the body’s weight.

The basic thing for upkeeping of the health is not the amount and quantity of the food; it is the kind and quality that may fulfil the requirements. If this principle is adopted for intake of the food, most of the heart diseases can easily be prevented. The miraculous aspect of Islamic teachings is that out of many permissible foods, the Qur'an and Prophet’s sunnah have especially recommended a few. These recommended foods have a significant and remarkable effect in prevention of heart diseases.

The holy Quran recommends the fig and the olive in the words:
By the fig and by the olive![1]

1. Fig

It essentially provides calcium, phosphorous and quite high content of iron, but it is specially rich in fibre. It gives strength to the lungs and chest and is useful in the treatment of mental and heart diseases. Being rich in fibre, it tends to lower the cholesterol level due to its poly-unsaturated fat value. Thus its use is considerably fruitful for a heart patient.

2. Olive

Being a Qur'anic fruit it has also a very significant role in prevention and treatment of heart diseases. Those who want to cut down on cholesterol in their diet, olive oil is the best alternative of all the oils, as 100 grams of olive in brine contain:

82 calories
0.7 grams of protein
1.2 grams of saturated fat
1.0 gram of poly—unsaturated fat
35 grams of dietary fibre
8.8 grams of total fat and
cholesterol content is NIL.

Italy has a lower incidence of heart diseases, apparently because the Italians use the valuable olive oil instead of butter and other animal fats. It is reported by Zayd bin Arqam that the holy Prophet (saw) recommended the use of olive (oil) for the heart patients.[2]

3. Garlic

The Qur'an refers it in surah al-Baqarah in the words "and its garlic." It is one of the spices, which provides strength to heart,  brain, eyes, and other parts of the body and especially enhances the body’s power of killing injurious germs. Recent medical research has revealed that garlic is also useful in treating paralysis, asthma, tuberculosis and pain of the joints. Moreover, it possesses antibiotic and antiseptic properties. Due to its special function in control of hypertension, it is also useful for prevention of heart attack.

4. Onion

The Qur'an has also referred it in the same verse: "and its onion." It is a major source of proteins, calcium, potassium, sodium, sulphur and iron. 100 grams of raw onion contains:

1.3 gms of dietary fibre
23 calories
0.9 gms of protein and
5.2 gms of sugar

It specially contains B6 and FO. It is useful in killing worms and eliminating the bacteria causing tuberculosis and ulceration of the lungs. Its most important property is that it helps in dissolution of blood cholesterol and its constant use tends to prevent heart attacks.

5. Grapes

The Qur'an refers it as "a fruit of paradise" saying:
There shall be gardens and grapes.[3]

Grapes as per recent medical research, in addition to be a source of carbohydrates, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and especially of vitamin A, are essentially useful for heart, liver and stomach. It is specially beneficial for mental and heart diseases and for intestinal ailments.

6. Meat

There are three kinds of meat:

(i) Beef (discouraged): Although beef and mutton are declared to be lawful, but Shariah has preferred the white meat (fish and birds etc) which is very low in fat and thus possesses no harm for heart. The holy Prophet (saw) has said in respect of red meat:
There is a curative quality in cow’s milk, a medicinal value in cow’s butter and disease in cow’s meat.[4]

Cow’s meat, being red meat, is essentially very high in cholesterol but modern research has further verified the Prophet’s saying that it contains a worm in it, called taenia saginata which also causes various abdominal diseases.   1O0 grams of beef contains:

  Calories Fat (g)
1. Minced (ground) cooked 229 15.2
2. Rumpsteak fried 246 14.6
3. Grilled (broiled) 218 12.1
4. Sirloin roast 284 21.1

(ii) Mutton (lamb): It is also high in fat, as it can be known through the following table.  1O0 grams of lamb contains:
  Calories Fat (g)
1. Leg roast 266 17.9
2. Loin chops (broiled) 355 29
3. Grilled (broiled) lean only 222 12.3
4. Roast, lean only 191 8.1
Neck is the only part of the lamb that is low in fat and hence not rich in cholesterol, That’s why the holy Prophet (saw) recommended the meat of lamb’s neck to eat, as related by Ibn-ul-Qayyim in Zad-ul-maad. Diet Specialists have also recommended to eat only the lean, to get reduction in saturated fat from the meat.

(iii) White meat (encouraged): Fish and birds' meat, being comparatively low in fat and tending to cut down the cholesterol levels, has been preferred by the Qur'an and the sunnah. The Qur'an has declared the bird’s meat as one of the paradise meals, saying:
And they will get the meat of the birds as per their desire.[5]

Moreover the holy Prophet (saw) gave a special permission of meat of the fish, due to its dietary and medicinal usefulness. White fish is very low in fat, whereas the oily fish contains a lot of poly-unsaturated fat, which itself lowers the cholesterol levels. Hence its use is remarkably helpful in prevention of heart diseases.

7. More fiber consumption

Medical research has established that increase in fiber consumption in various forms, plays a vital role in prevention and cure of heart diseases. For higher fiber intake, "whole grains" are highly recommended. Brown and whole grain-bread, made from whole-meal flour is the best natural form of fibre consumption. The holy Prophet (saw) himself always used and preferred the use of whole-grain bread.

1. Qur'an (at-Tin) 95:1.
2. Tirmidhi, al-Jami'.
3. Qur'an (an-Naba') 78:32.
4. Ibn-ul-Qayyim, Zad-ul-maad.
5. Qur'an (al-Waqi'ah) 56:21.

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