By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Heart disease is a world-wide problem and is a top killer for many countries such as America, Australia, UK, Canada and many others. It is estimated that it kills 2,200 Americans per day. People make choices everyday that either benefit or detriment their heart.
Heart disease is nicknamed the ‘silent killer’ and unfortunately many people don’t consider their own heart health until they develop a disease. However, it’s easy to prevent considerably by food and lifestyle choices, so let’s start with the top 10 foods that you can eat to improve your overall heart health!
Blueberries provide powerful anti-oxidants called polyphenols that help protect the blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Also anthocyanins in berries have also been shown to protect against high blood pressure.
2.) Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in mono-unsaturated fats which helps protect the heart and cardiovascular system. It is ideal to consume olive oil raw and cold pressed (extra-virgin), excellent on salads, drizzled over vegetables raw and cooked, in savoury smoothies and juices, and it can also be used as a soup dressing, drizzled over a soup dish.
Nuts, particularly almonds, walnuts and macadamias, are an easy snack and are packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein and good fats. The good fat in nuts helps boost the good HDL cholesterol which aids in the removal of the bad LDL cholesterol from the blood vessels and takes it into the liver to be eliminated. Nuts also contain vitamin E which has a particular protective effect on free radical damage to the blood fats and to the cells of the cardiovascular system.
4.) Oily cold water fish
Oily cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, trout and sardines provide significant omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to protect the heart, reduce cholesterol and inflammation, slow plaque build-up in the arteries and reduce blood pressure.
5.) Dark Green leafy vegetables
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain carotenoids, lutein, folate, magnesium, potassium and calcium. The electrolytes help reduce high blood pressure, the carotenoids and other nutrients protect against oxidative blood vessel wall damage and the folate can help bring down levels of homocysteine which contributes to cardiovascular damage.
6.) Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure. It appears that a compound in cocoa, called epicatechin, boosts nitric oxide, a substance that has been shown to be crucial to healthy blood vessels by helping regulate healthy blood pressure. Be sure to choose dark chocolate, ideally one that is greater than 70% cocoa solids or even better 100% raw cacao nibs or ground in recipes, healthy treats and smoothies.
Avocados are high in heart smart mono-unsaturated fats and vitamin E in their perfectly natural state. This is my favourite fast food for my daughter when we need a snack in a hurry. Studies also indicate that the fat in avocados will increase the absorption of the carotenoids such as beta-carotenes and lycopene in the other vegetables in a salad such as the spinach, tomato, carrot and peppers! So by adding an avocado you are not only increasing your mono-unsaturated fats but you are also increasing the absorption (estimated by 200%) and utilisation of the carotenoids which are also heart protective. Win-Win!
8.) Chia & Flaxseeds
Full of omega 3 fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid, minerals, soluble and insoluble fibre. These seeds are so easy to add to smoothies, juices, breakfast meals and salads. Fibre aids in the removal and elimination of cholesterol via the bowel while the fatty acids support healthy cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides.
A clove a day keeps heart disease away! Garlic has been shown to act as a natural anti-clotting agent and has been shown to slow the development of atherosclerosis and lower blood pressure, it contains many natural occurring anti-oxidants which help protect the heart and vessels. Garlic can be added to many meals, made into salad dressings and even added to your savoury juices.
Tomatoes contain carotenoid compounds but they particularly contain a super anti-oxidant called lycopene. This anti-oxidants helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol thus protecting the heart and blood vessels.
There are so many MORE wonderful healthful plant based foods that provide enormous heart health benefits. Here are 12 easy steps for a healthy heart!
Here are some great heart healthy reboot recipes:
Honey Sesame Salad Dressing
Hail to the Kale Salad
Sweet Mango-Avocado-Tomato Salad
Greek Cannellini Bean & Vegetable Soup
Green Vegetable Soup
Easy Guacamole For Your Super Bowl Party
Homemade Healthy Granola Bars
Rich & Creamy Red Velvet Smoothie
Avocado & Chia Seed Shake