Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths each year. But fear not – you can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by making diet and lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and eating heart-healthy foods.
All five of the following superfoods are easy to incorporate into your eating plan and have been expertly validated to protect your body’s most important muscle. By choosing foods and supplements that support heart health, you are getting an important piece of the longevity puzzle that can keep your heart happy for decades.
1. Omega-3 fats
The health benefits of a diet high in essential fatty acids are obvious, including the boost these healthy fats give your heart. Omega-3 fats are so important to heart health that deficiency is linked to a higher risk of heart death.[ii]
Conversely, eating foods high in omega-3 fat can help protect the heart from disease. A 2018 study found that eating a diet with a 1: 1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats quickly changed the fat composition of heart tissue, resulting in heart protection.[iii] For most people, this would mean reducing omega-6s while increasing omega-3s.
To ensure that your diet contains enough of these heart-healthy fats, include cold-water wild-caught fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines two to three times a week.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts (be sure and eat the paper-like skin around them, which contains high levels of polyphenols), as well as flaxseeds and chia seeds, provide vegetarian sources of these essential fats, as do organic soybeans. You can also find omega-3 fats in supplement form.
Curcumin is the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the bright orange spice used in many South Asian dishes. Belonging to the ginger family, turmeric has long been studied for its beneficial effects on human health, particularly its anti-inflammatory properties and, more recently, its potential to be of benefit to the heart.
Diabetics have a special need to protect heart health, and curcumin can be an important ally in its defense. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that supplementing with curcumin provided protection from atherosclerotic heart disease for patients with type 2 diabetes.[iv]
Another study found that regular consumption of curcumin provided participants in the study, which consisted of 32 postmenopausal women, with the same heart health benefits as regular aerobic exercise.[v]
At least some of curcumin’s amazing health benefits come from its ability to thin the blood and widen the arteries. Cooking with this hot spice is easy and tasty. Numerous Indian and Southeast Asian dishes call for bright orange flavors. Aim for around two tablespoons per day in your recipes or supplement them with a high-quality, preferably organic, supplement in liquid or capsule form.
3. Green tea
You may not think about your heart when you have a relaxing cup of tea, but science has pondered the numerous ways that green tea can be for your wellness. Don’t stop with just one cup – when it comes to protecting your heart, the more green tea you drink, the better.
A study of more than 40,530 Japanese adults found that people who consumed five or more cups of green tea a day had a 26 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack than people who didn’t drink green tea.[vi][vii]
A 2015 meta-analysis came to similar conclusions and found that just one cup of green tea per day was associated with a 5 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 4 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.[viii]
Catechins, the potent natural flavanols that provide much of the antioxidant found in green tea, are believed to have some of the beneficial effects of green tea on cardiovascular health. The antioxidant power of catechins has been shown to reduce LDL oxidation and be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease due to the associated oxidative stress.[ix]
4. Foods rich in magnesium
Protecting your heart begins with getting adequate amounts of essential daily nutrients. Magnesium, a mineral that is involved in hundreds of biochemical functions in your body, helps maintain healthy heart function by normalizing blood pressure and keeping the heart rhythm beating steadily. Conversely, magnesium deficiencies are linked to clogged arteries and sudden cardiac arrest.[x]
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science found that people with a higher dietary intake of magnesium and the amino acid taurine were significantly less likely to die of heart disease.[xi] Foods rich in magnesium include dark, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and avocados.
Supporting your body with a high quality magnesium supplement has also been shown to be beneficial for the heart. A 2005 study of the clinical and metabolic effects of oral magnesium supplementation found that doses of 300 mg daily for 30 days were effective in providing cardioprotective effects in some patients.[xii]
You may not think of chocolate as an organic food, but when it comes to dark chocolate, there is growing evidence that not only can it make your Valentine’s Day smile, but it can also help keep your heart happy. Chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa is rich in flavanols, which are found in high concentrations in grapes, dark berries, tea and cocoa. It is a tasty and heart-healthy snack.
A research team from Cambridge University examined the link between chocolate consumption and the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders. They performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and observational studies and found that chocolate consumption appears to be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders.[xiii]
It’s never too late to add a few large squares of decadent dark chocolate to your diet. A 2012 study on patients with heart failure found that consuming two flavanol-rich chocolate bars per day acutely improved vascular function, an effect that persisted for four weeks after daily consumption.[xiv]
There are more than 1,600 abstracts of cardioprotective research on GreenMedInfo.com, the world’s most cited, evidence-based natural medical resource.
The GMI research group is dedicated to studying the most important health and environmental problems of the day. Particular attention is paid to environmental health. Our focused and thorough research will examine the many ways in which the current state of the human body directly reflects the true state of the environment. This work is reproduced and distributed with permission from GreenMedInfo LLC. Sign up for the newsletter at www.GreenmedInfo.health