The Way to a Healthy Heart is Through Your Stomach: Superfoods that Help Keep Your Ticker Healthy
On average, your heart beats roughly 115,200 times per day, and more than 42 million beats per year, which calculates to approximately 3 billion beats total by the time you reach 72 years of age! Even with its awe-inspiring productive output and the integral role it plays in almost every single bodily function, the heart hardly ever gets recognized as more than just a repetitive mechanical pump.
When healthy, the heart’s rhythm is like a metronome – its gentle ticks and tocks coinciding with the flow of blood throughout the body. Because it operates so seamlessly, we rarely have cause to notice it – that is, until something happens that disrupts its perpetual pattern.
ARE YOU AT RISK FOR HEART DISEASE?
Despite being almost entirely avoidable, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death for men and women around the world. CVD refers to conditions that involve the heart and blood vessels; including things like high blood pressure, angina, heart attacks and strokes. The wealth of knowledge and advanced diagnostic technology available today present compelling evidence to suggest that heart disease is not only treatable, it is possible to avoid altogether.
Some people have to work harder than others in order to keep their hearts functioning at optimal levels. Here are some of the major risk factors of heart disease – speak with your doctor about further screening if three or more factors apply to you:
- Family history of heart attack or other CVD
- 45 years and older (male), 55 years and older (female)
- Currently smoke cigarettes, or were a smoker in the last 10 years.
- Overweight / Obese
- High blood pressure
- High stress (Type A personality)
- Sedentary lifestyle (little to no physical exercise)
HEALTHY HABITS FOR A HAPPY HEART
There are many different things you can do to protect your heart from CVD and improve the quality and longevity of your life. Scheduling annual check-ups with your doctor, exercise regularly, and taking positive steps towards reducing the amount of stress in your life all help to reduce your risk of heart disease, but probably one of the easiest changes to make is to your diet.
Between fast-paced lifestyles and busy schedules, setting aside time to prepare healthy meals isn’t always a priority – especially when fast food options are so readily available. Modern diets have become high in saturated and other unhealthy fats, processed sugars, sodium and starches; ingredients that have been shown to damage the heart if consumed in excess.
Regardless of whether you’re setting out to correct decades of unhealthy food choice, or just want to give your meals a heart-helping upgrade, here are a few foods you can work into your diet to keep your heart feeling fit as a fiddle (plus a few recipe favorites to get you started):
1. Chickpeas, beans and lentils
Legumes are packed with fibre, protein and antioxidant polyphenols which can significantly reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (also known as “bad cholesterol”). Try them for lunch with this veggie bowl recipe from The Healthy Maven
2. Broccoli and asparagus
These superfoods are both natural sources of folate, a vitamin which prevents build up of homocysteine in the body –an amino acid that has been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
Make room on the grill for this BBQ’d asparagus recipe from Good Food Australia.
3. Nuts and seeds
If their higher fat content has caused you to shy away from nuts, you might want to consider a change of heart. Nuts contain vitamin E, heart-helping fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids which all help to lower cholesterol and maintain blood pressure levels. If the benefits are still not enough to win you over, flax and chia seeds can give you the same fiber and omega-3s.
4. Green Tea and coffee
While the exact reason remains unclear, coffee and tea consumption have both been linked to dramatic reduction in CVD. Brew or steep yourself a cup, or reap the benefits without the beverage with our Green Tea Extract and Green Coffee Complex.
5. Berries and Pomegranate
Not only are they refreshingly tasty, these fruits are high in antioxidant polyphenols which help to keep your arteries limber. Berries are also a fantastic source of fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C – the perfect additions to a heart-healthy drink or dessert.
6. Spinach and kale
Leafy greens are health mega-boosters for several reasons and when it comes to your heart health, you definitely want them on the menu. High in carotenoids, fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are the perfect ingredients for helping your body get rid of harmful compounds.
Up your salad game with this recipe for The Best Shredded Kale Salad from Oh She Glows.
7. Dark Chocolate and Red Wine
Who said diets can’t be fun? These two indulgences (in moderation) can help to reduce plaque build up in your arteries, and are great treats to help you unwind after a stressful day. Our Health4Living CoQ10 chocolates are formulated with a heart support and anti-aging supplement, so you can feel even better about treating yourself.
Know of any other heart-friendly recipes? Let us know if the comments section below.