5 Superhero Foods for a Strong and Healthy Heart
Heart disease is often thought to be a disease of the aged. In addition to being a naturopathic doctor, I have been a cardiac nurse for over 12 years and I can say that more and more younger people, in their 40’s and 50’s, and even 30’s have been affected by heart disease. Sure, some people have been dealt a crappy set of genes when it comes to heart health, however, this is not the whole story. Food is medicine…Food is information. What you put into our body actually “talks” to our genes and may influence their fate. Food can be a protective armour preventing the progression of heart disease and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Include these 5 powerful foods into your diet to reduce your risk.
1. Pomegranate. Pomegranates contain a naturally occurring plant chemical (phytochemical) called ellagic acid which helps to reduce inflammation, prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, lower LDL and blood pressure. Pomegranate is nature’s ACE inhibitor. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is an enzyme that is targeted by drugs to reduce blood pressure. If you are already taking these drugs, caution is advised to avoid your blood pressure from dropping too low. Just 2 ounces daily may be all you need to have an effect.
2. Walnuts. Walnuts are part of a Mediterranean diet and it is known that this type of diet is effective at reducing risk of heart disease as well as other chronic diseases. Walnuts are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. 1 oz daily may be all you need to get the benefits. Make sure you purchase raw, unsalted walnuts that have not been sitting in the bulk bin for too long as this will affect the quality of the nuts.
3. Avocados. Avocados are mighty powerful fruits containing a number of heart healthy nutrients including L-carnitine, potassium, glutathione, fibre, and healthy fats. They support energy production of the heart, aid in blood pressure lowering, decrease inflammation and help keep you feeling full longer.
4. Salmon. Salmon is a great source of the omega 3 fatty acid, EPA and DHA which are important for heart health. These omega 3 fats help to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Include 1-2 servings of salmon or fatty fish such as mackerel or sardines weekly. Check out http://seachoice.org/ or https://www.seafoodwatch.org/consumers/seafood-and-your-health for a list of fish choices that are both good for your health and the environment.
5. Cocoa. Good news chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate contains L-arginine and magnesium which are helpful for relaxing the arteries helping to improve blood flow to the heart muscle as well as improving blood flow to other sensitive parts (wink, wink). Dark chocolate helps to lower blood pressure and insulin resistance. Be sure to choose organic dark chocolate at least 70% cocoa.
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