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7 Foods for a Healthy Heart

Here's our pick of the top 7 foods for a healthy heart.  There are others, but these are the ones we think should be included most frequently.  This is alongside a good natural diet free from processed foods of course! We send our "Eat Naturally" guidelines free with all orders.  Good food is a foundation, but please also see the 7 Keys to Avoiding Heart Disease.

 

Fish

Fish comes first, and is the priority food for heart health.  The fresher the better, but good quality tinned fish is also good, but look for ones without lots of rubbish added to them - pure fish in spring water is ideal.  Saltwater fish are higher in fatty acids than freshwater species. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are all excellent.  Aim for three good sized portions a week. 

The key action of the valuable omega 3 fatty acids is the reduction of triglycerides, reduction of inflammation and arterial plaque, and relaxing the blood vessels. So no surprise then that regular fish consumption has been proven time and time again to lower heart disease risk considerably.  

The people who eat most fish are probably eskimos, and it's no coincidence that heart disease is rarely seen if at all in some families.  When eskimos switch to a more western diet the rates become similar to ours very quickly.

Food sources of fish MUST be your priority, if you are genuinely finding this tricky, the certainly you can add a fish oil supplement if needs be.  For vegetarians, your best direct alternative here is Hemp Oil which is the most balanced form of omega oils for human health.  Most vegetable oils are not suitable for human health having way too much omega 6.

 

Oatmeal

Because it helps with arterial plaque, oatmeal is a lovely food to include in your diet.  Please do choose traditional whole oats, and these make a wonderful natural breakfast.  Instant, and processed oats, you know the ones we mean.. the branded ones, should be avoided, the sugar content is often staggering! 

Add a little yoghurt or cream for lovely creaminess.   If you like a bit of spice, try some cinnamon, cloves or ginger.  Or honey is lovely, especially if you can get some raw honey.

And even better nutritionally - try fermented or sprouted oats; if you were eating oats regularly, this would be especially important as long term use of unsoaked grains can block certain vitamins.

 

Nuts

Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but nuts are really helpful for the health of your arteries.  Studies have shown a good ability to reduce coronary heart disease.  Walnuts especially have been shown to add elasticity, this is thought be due to the vitamin E and l-arginine.  Do go for natural unprocessed nuts for the best benefits.   Add around 5 servings a week, with an ounce being a typical serving, that's roughly 15 half walnuts, 15 cashews or 30 peanuts.

 

Yoghurt

There has been shown to be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.  Because the friendly bacteria in yoghurt will support your gums, we think this is a must to include in your diet.  Go for live, natural yoghurt, organic if at all possible.  If you can get fermented dairy drinks such as kefir (try your local Polish shop or online), these are incredibly good for you.  You might like to read our article on fermented foods.

 

Avocados

They are most unusual in the plant world in their nutritional make up, and are a great addition to a heart healthy diet.  The contain high quality fats for arterial flexibility, phytosterols to reduce inflammation, and PFAs which are rare in plants found on land, and these help us to absorb fat soluble vitamins.  There are also good levels of potassium (far more than bananas) which plays a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.  And magnesium which relaxes blood vessels. And it's worth mentioning that people who eat avocados regularly tend to be a little bit slimmer!

 

Green Tea

OK, so it's a drink, not a food, but it has nutritional properties greater than many foods! For heart health, it is highly recommended.  Studies show regular green tea drinkers are less likely to have a heart attack.  One study even showed it improving blood flow in the short term. 2 - 3 cups a day is ideal, and Green tea has lots of all round health benefits.

“Catechins the major polyphenolic compounds in green tea exert vascular-protective effects through multiple mechanisms including antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antiproliferative and lipid-lowering effects. Catechins were also reported to regulate vascular tone” Dr PV Babu

Just normal green tea from your supermarket or health store is all you need.  If you want to try something a bit special, we do stock Matcha Tea which is a green ceremonial tea.

 

Moderate Alcohol

Numerous studies have shown alcohol to have protective benefits for the heart.  1 - 3 units a day is what most studies seem to agree on, and one or two alcohol free days a week is recommended.  Consumption should be regular, not 3 units a day all saved up for the weekend!  Many take revasterol supplements for the antioxidant and heart health benefits, but a good glass of red wine does the job far more naturally.  We have read that that Malbec has the best levels of this unique nutrient. All in all, the type of alcohol doesn't seem to matter too much, but for us, red wine has the greatest all round benefits, so would be first choice, your taste buds may dictate otherwise!

* Do discuss alcohol intake with your doctor if you have serious heart issues.

 


We are running some super discounts for Have a Happy Heart Week

Later this week we will take a look at fats and your heart, and why your body needs good quality fats for healthy heart function.  Like us on Facebook for more resources www.facebook.com/seventhwaveuk

In the meantime, here's our article proving that margarine is to be avoided Butter or Margarine?


 

References

Levitan EB, et al. Fish consumption, marine omega-3 fatty acids, and incidence of heart failure: A population-based prospective study of middle-aged and elderly men. European Heart Journal. 2009;30:1495.

Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD; William S. Harris, PhD; Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH; for the Nutrition Committee

Farzaneh-Far R, et al. Association of marine omega-3 fatty acid levels with telomeric aging in patients with coronary heart disease. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2010;303:250.

Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., director, Lipid Clinic, Hospital Clinico, Barcelona, Spain; Oct 10, 2006, Journal of the American College of Cardiology online; Oct. 9, 2006, news release, American College of Cardiology

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ 1998;317(14): 1341-1345.

Fraser GE, Sabate J, et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1992152:1416-1424

National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES 2001-2006)

California Avocado Commission: Heart Health

Tipoe GL, Leung TM, Hung MW, Fung ML. Green tea polyphenols as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for cardiovascular protection. Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2007 Jun;7(2):135-44.

Basu A, Lucas EA. Mechanisms and effects of green tea on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev. 2007 Aug;65(8 Pt 1):361-75.

Moore, R., and Pearson, T. Moderate alcohol consumption and coronary artery disease. Medicine, 1986, 65 (4), 242-267

Yuan, J-M., et al. Follow up study of moderate alcohol intake and mortality among middle aged men in Shanghai, China. British Medical Journal, 1997, 314, 18-23.

Farchi, G., et al. Alcohol and survival in the Italian rural cohorts of the Seven Countries Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2000, 29, 667-67

 

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