By Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
According to the European Food Information Council, “a diet based on a variety of nutritious foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, remains the best way to ensure a balanced nutrient intake for optimal health.” However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin, with the plethora of sources about eating right.
The CDC states that every year 600,000 people die of heart disease, and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. These statistics demonstrate that taking care of our body, especially our cardiovascular system, is imperative to our overall health. Decreasing saturated fats, avoiding trans fats, no smoking, and daily exercise are key components to combating both heart disease and cardiovascular problems. Diet is a major way you can start on a great path. Along with a balanced diet and daily exercise, the following superfoods can help keep your risk low and protect your heart.
Top Superfoods For A Strong Heart
1 – Salmon
The American Heart Association suggests salmon for heart health due to its low saturated fat content and high omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these elements decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides, and help reduce cardiovascular inflammation. I recommend wild-caught salmon, if possible. VitalChoice.com carries many high quality salmon products.
2 – Nuts and Seeds
The AHA also recommends nuts and seeds when eaten in moderation, approximately four servings per week. These can be a great source of protein and help with cravings as an energy-packed snack to replace other high-fat foods. I suggest choosing raw walnuts or almonds.
3 – Berries
The Journal of American Heart Association report in 2013 states that “women eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third.” These types of berries contain high levels of dietary flavonoids, which help to dilate arteries and counteract plaque buildup. It has been studied and shown that eating more berries at an early age can help prevent heart problems later in life. Other foods rich in flavonoids are blackberries, eggplant, and grapes (which is why a glass of wine is sometimes noted in heart health, however alcohol use is not recommended to combat heart disease by medical professionals.)
4 – Kale (and other green leafy vegetables)
Packed with vitamins A and C, potassium and phytochemicals, green leafy vegetables have great antioxidation properties that can help combat cholesterol build up. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that “eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, a day resulted in more than 20 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to eating less than three.”
5 – Low fat or nonfat yogurt
This superfood packs a lot of protein. When possible, choose USDA certified organic Greek yogurt varieties. This is a healthy replacement for sour cream, butter, and heavy cream in recipes that call for those ingredients. Choosing to cut out trans fat and reduce saturated fat can help to reduce cholesterol and arterial plaque.
6 – Turkey
Lean turkey meat can be grilled, roasted, or treated like hamburger when ground. A substitute for fattier meats such as beef or pork, turkey is a great way to reduce dietary saturated fats and help with cholesterol reduction, while still packing a great taste. Again, when possible, choose USDA certified organic turkey.
7 – Avocado
Some people give this fatty food a bad reputation because of the fat content; but in reality, many do not realize that not all fats are bad for you. Rich in oleic acid and monounsaturated fats, avocados can actually help raise your good “HDL” cholesterol while lowering your bad “LDL” cholesterol. Another benefit of avocado is the ability to help with absorption of other vitamins and nutrients that can be helpful in maintaining a healthy heart. Avocado contains plenty of beta-carotene and can provide 15 times more absorption of Vitamin A. This is important, as deficiency symptoms can include night blindness, rough skin, and susceptibility to infections in the respiratory tract.
8 – Onions, Garlic, and Leeks
The pungent odor of this food group is part of their health benefit! The distinct smells are caused by sulfur compounds, including allicin and diallyl disulphide (DADS); giving the distinct odor but also the benefits to your heart. These compounds reduce inflammation, relax and dilate blood vessels and have been known to help lower blood pressure. Also beneficial are the antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help fight off infection and other disease.
Balance Within Your Diet Is Key
Overall, it’s important for your health to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish such as salmon. Along with this, moderate exercise at least three to four times a week, good nutritional supplements, and at least six to eight glasses of pure water daily.
I recommend limiting beef, pork, fried foods and fast foods to no more than once a week. Heart disease and cardiovascular health are highly preventable. By eating more healthy superfoods, you can jump-start and prevent possible heart problems in the future.
Supplements Can Help Provide Balance
Taking the proper nutritional supplements can help to increase essential vitamins and minerals and minimize chances for cardiovascular disease. Check out our Diamond Nutritionals supplements to help support a healthy body! We have a specific line that is dedicated to cardiovascular health and can help to supplement your healthy diet.
Here are my top four formulas to promote heart health:
Come back to mxx20.wpengine.com often for more information about heart health and the latest wellness news.