Top Five Foods for Heart Health
Veggies, Omega 3s, berries… you’ve heard it before but let’s dive in a little deeper, and add on some other uber-healthy food and drink items that make eating enjoyable and feel far away from being a ‘diet’.
Yes, I’m talking about chocolate, rich, abundant fats and wine… or better yet, mezcal!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and since February is National Heart Month, we have two very good reasons to discuss how what we eat can support cardiovascular health.
Rather than putting our attention on skewed information from the AHA, let’s get to the bottom of what foods truly do support our longevity by making our hearts, and our bodies, stronger.
Nutrient Dense Veggies
Pump up your produce intake to 10 servings a day, and you may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and your risk of premature death by 31%, according to a new review article. Green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and green and yellow vegetables such as carrots, and peppers contain many healthful nutrients, especially fiber, which seems to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve blood vessel function (1).
Anti-oxidant rich fruits
Berries are loaded with polyphenols — antioxidants that mop up damage-causing free radicals in your body. They also deliver fiber and vitamin C, which are both linked to a lower risk of stroke (2) Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries are all great choices, just be sure to buy organic and keep it local and in season? Frozen local berries in the dead of winter are a better choice than blueberries coming into LA from Chile in December!
Our bodies love and need saturated fat, but from sources like grass-fed meat and butter, whole eggs, and coconut fat (not hot dogs and pepperoni pizza). It’s the sourcing that is key. Grass fed tallow, pasture fed lard and even grass fed ghee for those who include dairy are beneficial to the many systems in our bodies, including cardiovascular. By a mile, the biggest enemy in our food is likely refined sugar . Even the American Heart Association, which is still anti-saturated fat, agrees that sugar is a far bigger contributor to heart disease (3)!
Naturally raised (grass fed / wild / pasture-centric) proteins
Wild Salmon or Black Cod, grass fed beef or bison all are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk and reduce irregular heartbeats. Eating at least one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death (4).
Wine (or Mezcal!) + Chocolate
Cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, is rich in flavanols, which can help lower your blood pressure and prevent blood clots. It also acts as an antioxidant, which can keep “bad” cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls (2). And to drink? Sure, red wine is rich in resveratrol and has its health benefits, but what if you’re more of a spirited kind of person? Not to worry; there’s room for that, too. Alcohol may help your heart in a few ways, by raising HDL or “good” cholesterol, stops blood from clotting and helps prevent damage caused by high LDL, the “bad” cholesterol (5). Looking for something above and beyond- look into mezcal. Still relatively unknown at many a restaurant or bar (depending on where you live), it’s my new favorite spirit of choice.
it’s not rocket science.
Actually, it’s just food!