You’ve heard the saying, “the heart wants what the heart wants” referring to love associated with this organ, but in reality it’s the heart needs what the heart needs when it comes to keeping your physical heart healthy. The heart along with blood and blood vessels including arteries, veins and capillaries make up your cardiovascular system or circulatory system as it is also called and are responsible for the circulation of blood to deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and taking waste to the organs that provide elimination of them from the body. In recent years it seems people are more aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and taking steps to boost their heart health, but the sad news is that the American Heart Association still lists cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in Americans. By making some dietary and lifestyle changes however we can improve our cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of killing diseases and conditions such as heart attack, stroke, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension. For a healthy heart make sure your diet has the following nutritional components included.
1. Antioxidants for a Healthy Heart
Antioxidants provide protection from free radical damage and help repair damage done to body cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. The rule of thumb for antioxidants is that the more colorful the veggie, the more antioxidants it provides. For a healthy heart, green veggies full of carotenoids are particularly important. Not only do you get antioxidant protection from vegetables, but you also get heart healthy fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes are another good vegetable to add to the diet for a healthy heart as they contain lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid found to reduce the risk of heart attack, reduce bad cholesterol levels, and help in keeping blood vessels open. They are also a good source of potassium that is good for heart health. Another great category of antioxidants for heart health are flavonoids that can help keep blood pressure stable and reduce inflammation. Berries get their red and blue colors from anthocyanins which are flavonoids that are reported to help keep blood vessels open and help reduce high blood pressure. One study done with women from 25 to 42 years of age reported a 32% less risk of heart attack for those eating blueberries and strawberries more than 3 times a week. Pomegranates are another good source of anthocyanins and also have polyphenols, another flavonoid, that are heart healthy. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are also good sources of flavonoids and vitamin C. Research has found that adding these to the diet can lower strokes resulting from blood clots by 19%. Before adding some of these antioxidant foods to your diet though, check with your healthcare provider, especially if you are taking statins or blood thinners, as some of these foods may not be safe in conjunction with these medications.
When adding antioxidants to your diet for a healthy heart, consider switching your morning coffee to green tea that has catechins. Studies have shown green tea to positively affect cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Then treat yourself to some dark chocolate with its flavonoid polyphenols. Just make sure you are getting real dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa and not milk chocolate. Another reason antioxidants are particularly good for heart and the whole body is the nourishment they provide for your natural stem cells. Stem cells have the unique ability to become any other type of cell the body needs and be able to go to places with damaged cells and replace them. By nourishing your stem cells you help them reproduce and the antioxidants protect these stem cells from becoming damaged by free radicals. When your schedule keeps you from getting the antioxidant protection you need in your diet, this antioxidant algae supplement may be a solution for you with its wild blueberry, green tea, carnosine, and organic wild bluegreen algae.
2. Healthy Food: Fats
Your body, especially the brain and the heart, needs healthy fats. One of the types of fats that can help reduce abnormal heartbeat, reduce the triglycerides in the blood, help reduce plaque in arteries, and reduce blood pressure is omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines several times a week can help you get these healthy fats. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts not only give you these healthy fats for the heart, but also fiber and vitamin E that are also heart healthy. Fish oil supplements, seeds such as flax and chia, healthy oils like olive and flax, and AFA bluegreen algae are other good sources for omega-3’s. Monounsaturated fats are another healthy type of fat that can add to the health of your heart and cardiovascular system. This is the type of fat found in avocados, nuts, olives and oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil. Studies have found that eating a diet high in grains, fruits, and vegetables along with nuts and olive oil can lower the risk of death from heart attack or stroke by 30%. Monounsaturated fats have also been found to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.
3. Vitamins and Minerals For a Happy Heart
Vitamin B3, Niacin, has been reported to have more effect on lowering LDL cholesterol levels than certain statin drugs, making it an important vitamin for a healthy heart. Vitamin D is another important vitamin as studies show that a lack of this vitamin can lead to doubling the risk of heart attack, stroke or other heart conditions as a result of high blood pressure and diabetes. We get most of our vitamin D by being out in the sun, but you can also get it from some fatty types of fish, eggs with the yolk included, and fortified foods such as dairy and cereals. For minerals that add to heart health, add foods rich in magnesium and potassium. For magnesium add in foods such as almonds, seaweed, whole grains, blueberries, dark chocolate, and leafy greens like spinach. You can add potassium to the diet by eating foods such as potatoes, avocados, oranges, tomatoes, bananas, beans and legumes.
4. Coenzyme Q10 For a Healthy Heart
Coenzyme Q10 also known as CoQ10 performs much like antioxidants and helps in adding to cells’ energy production that all organs need to function properly, and lowering risks of blood clots. Studies on CoQ10 have reported findings of a decrease in the risk of death from heart attack, a reduction in the chances of additional heart attacks after an initial one and less chest pain afterwards by taking supplements with this coenzyme. The body does make a little of this coenzyme itself called ubiquinol, but if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease it may not be enough especially if you take statins to lower cholesterol which can interfere with the body’s ability to produce the small amount that it does naturally. This may be a case when supplementation could be helpful. This ubiquinol algae supplement not only gives you the good nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae but also 100mg of pure ubiquinol delivered in a blend of organic flaxseed oil, reishi and oyster mushrooms, and polyphenols from olives. You can also get small amounts of CoQ10 from eating fish, some meats, and whole grains, but not enough to significantly replenish the levels your body needs to produce energy for jobs such as the heart pumping blood, the brain to process information, lungs to process oxygen or for muscles to move.
5. Lean Protein for a Healthy Heart
Your body in general needs protein to function well and stay healthy, but many sources of protein include unhealthy types of fat that are detrimental to heart health. Plant sources of protein such as beans, lentils and peas can help solve this problem in your diet. Just look at one study reporting a 22% reduction in the risk of heart disease for those eating legumes a minimum of 4 times weekly compared to those eating them less than once weekly. These types of lean proteins can also help control blood sugar levels that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
6. Healthy Food: Fiber
Adding fiber to your diet is a great way to lower cholesterol levels as co-director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, Lauren Graf, explains that fiber absorbs cholesterol from foods in the digestive tract allowing the body to eliminate it instead of adding it to the bloodstream. Adding a minimum of 25 or 30 grams a day of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains such as oatmeal to your diet will help get you the fiber you need for a healthy heart.
7. More For a Healthy Heart
Other additions to the diet that can help with a healthy heart include red yeast rice as it contains compounds that act much like statins do in lowering cholesterol as well as being able to increase HDL cholesterol, hawthorn berry that can relax arteries for better circulation, and garlic with allicin that can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce plaque buildup in arteries. For an easy way to get a complete nutritional boost this wholefood supplement program gives you a blend of marine and freshwater algae, tonic mushrooms, sprouted grasses and grains along with the probiotics and digestive enzymes to unlock the benefits these superfoods provide all in packets of capsules to grab anytime, anywhere and on the go.
Just a few additions to your already healthy diet and some lifestyle changes like reducing stress and getting good cardio exercise into your week can make a huge difference on your heart health. So make sure you are not only giving your heart what it wants, but also what it needs when it comes to heart healthy nutrition and it will help you keep on keeping on and beat the statistics of cardiovascular disease.