According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF):
- “A healthy well balanced diet can help to reduce your risk of getting coronary heart disease. If you already have a heart condition, eating a healthy diet can benefit your heart.”
It is also interesting to note that a "balanced diet" is what is recommended. – and the BHF defines a balanced diet as containing:
- Lots of fruit and vegetables plenty of starchy foods such as rice, bread, potatoes and pasta.
- Try to eat wholegrain varieties if you can.
- Your diet may contain some milk and dairy products some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.
- It is recommended that you only eat a small amount of foods and drinks that are high in fats or sugar.
- It is better to eat items that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can.
So as you can see, they recommend a well-balanced diet instead of some dietary fad or craze.
Vitamin C - Fruit & Vegetables are still the best
It is recommended that we should eat approximately 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, one serving being about a handful – 3 ounces or 80gms per serve. The reason it's important is that fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals which we need in our diet as our body does not make all the vitamins and minerals we need.
Vitamin C also supports Blood Vessel health
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and over-heating or cooking of fresh fruits and vegetables, can destroy much of this vitamin, so where possible, steam vegetables and eat lots of fresh salads. Drinking fresh fruit juices and fresh vegetables is an excellent way to get the most from them.
Fresh fruits are rich in vitamin C; a powerful, bacteria and toxin-fighting anti-oxidant. Vitamin C supports the proper dilation of blood vessels, thereby helping to support an adequate supply of blood to the heart and also helps to prevent the build up of high cholesterol.
This helps to ensure the heart isn't having to work overly hard.
Angina Pectoris - chest pains
As a result of supporting blood vessel dilation, Vitamin C may be beneficial for the condition called angina pectoris – technical name for the Greek for ‘a strangling of the chest’, which is basically a condition of mild to severe chest pains bought about by an insufficient lack of blood to the heart. Vitamin C is certainly one of the heart-healthy vitamins.
Food sources rich in heart healthy Vitamin C:
- Tomatoes - Vitamin C helps capillary walls
- Raw spinach
- Runner beans
- Leafy green vegetables are good sources of vitamin C
Vitamin E: a super heart vitamin
Vitamin E is considered to be one of the most heart-healthy vitamins there is. Firstly, it is not made by the body, so has to be taken in the diet.
Vitamin E has many different functions including skin enhancement, wound healing, immune function, and protection against various diseases.
Vitamin E is a strong Antioxidant
Antioxidants are thought to play a vital role in helping to protect against disease and cellular, especially that which is caused by the so-called “free radicals”. Antioxidants help fight free radicals. They are in fact, one of the best-known defences we have for free radicals.
Vitamin E supports Cholesterol reduction
Vitamin E helps to prevent cholesterol from being converted to damaging cholesterol plaques, these are deposits of cholesterol, which can build up on the inside of artery walls and start the process of thickening the blood vessels.
If left unchecked, the accumulation of cholesterol in artery walls can be more harmful and damaging. Vitamin E has been found to also thin the blood and assists blood flow.
Atherosclerosis: Too Much Cholesterol
Atherosclerosis is the gradual hardening of the artery walls caused by deposits of fatty plaques from too much cholesterol. The word 'atherosclerosis' itself comes from Greek words which literally mean 'hardened mush.' This is a pretty accurate description of the build up of cholesterol and fatty deposits in the arteries.
Fatty substances from the food we eat and damage to arteries from toxins and smoking can lead to a build up of the artery walls. If we neglect our health by little or no exercising and eat a diet rich in fatty substances, the health of our arteries can decline.
The build up of cholesterol in the arteries can cause the narrowing of the arteries as the walls come clogged with fatty deposits. There are nutrients and foods that help to naturally remove this, such as garlic, oats, lemon juice and warm water.
Food Sources of Vitamin E
Avocados are rich in vitamin E, oleic and folic acid and plenty of good heart-healthy oils. Oleic acid occurs naturally in many plant and animal sources and is one of the omega fatty acids and is considered one of the healthiest fats available. Oleic acid lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the body and is considered to be a super heart-healthy snack.
- Wheat germ
- Sunflower seeds
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Raw spinach
Pumpkin Seeds are a healthy snack
Pumpkin seeds are Vitamin E rich which can help to cleanse the blood and strengthen it. Vitamin E helps to reduce the chances of blood clots, which in turn, decreases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A stroke is a condition when there is an interruption to the blood flow in the brain, usually because of a blood clot or ruptured artery or blood vessel. A lack of oxygen and glucose (sugar) flowing to the brain leads to the death of brain cells and brain damage, often resulting in an impairment in speech, movement, and memory.
Omega 3 – Heart Healthy Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are a special group of heart healthy fatty acids. They can be found in high-fat fish such as mackerel and salmon and other seafood including herring, lake trout, oysters, sardines, shellfish and shrimp.
Plant sources of omega – 3 fatty acids include butternuts – also called white walnuts, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, hempseed, hempseed oil, soybean oil, and walnuts.
Certain margarines (avoid ones that contain hydrogenated or trans-fats) and most salad dressings - especially those made primarily of polyunsaturated or omega-3 fats – can also be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed is a great addition to any diet
Flaxseed is also nutrient-rich and high in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are ones we cannot make ourselves but that need to be taken in through our diet. Flaxseed is rich in Omega 3 and supports the maintenance of healthy cell walls as well as helping to improve circulation and oxygen uptake.
Magnesium & Calcium – minerals for heart health
Magnesium and calcium are both considered to be macro-minerals, which means they are needed by the body in larger quantities than the trace minerals, of which only small amounts are needed.
Magnesium and calcium both play a substantial part in supporting healthy muscular relaxation and contraction, including the heart muscle. Magnesium is found it is highest concentration in the heart muscle. Both of these minerals support heart health and are vital for healthy heart function.
The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, recommends 420 mg of magnesium for adult males and 320mg daily for adult females. These recommended daily allowances vary during pregnancy.
Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which helps to prevent arterial blockages. Walnuts contain Vitamin A, some of the B vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium and many other minerals. Walnuts are also a great source of vegetable protein.
Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts and walnuts are all great heart-healthy snacks. Nuts contain Vitamin B which is a well-known blood booster. Nuts are really one of the best blood circulation aids you can find.
A simple way to get a real boost to your diet is to take Organic Nutrition's Superfood diet supplement.
The natural vitamins, minerals and protein really help to support good heart health.