In today’s society weight loss is the number one priority but it is keeping a healthy heart that is of the utmost importance. The importance of lowering cholesterol is a key component in keeping a healthy heart. Luckily, we are learning more and more about the importance of proper nutrition to help us have a healthy heart. Here are some nutrition tips of foods that may aid in keeping a healthy heart.
The food that for years has been considered brain food, can actually help you keep a healthy heart. The omega-3 fatty acid found is fish has been shown to have many health benefits as well as helping keep a healthy heart.
Eating 1-2 servings of a 3-ounce fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, anchovies, or wild Alaskan salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon is probably the best choice as it has low mercury levels. Also, you should bake the fish at low heat as it will help preserve omega-3s. If you are a vegetarian you can add flaxseed to oatmeal, smoothies, or salads, to get your omega-3s and help keep a healthy heart.
Nutrition Tips 2: Eat Oatmeal
We all know that oatmeal is great for breakfast but did you realize you are taking steps to a healthy heart also. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which binds to bile acids in the intestines and stomach and is excreted as waste. In order to make more bile acids, the liver needs cholesterol to use which it takes from the bloodstream. The result for this nutrition tip is lower cholesterol levels and a healthy heart.
Taking in 3 grams of soluble fiber a day could lead to a 5 percent reduction in cholesterol. A serving is about a cup and a half and you can add such things as frozen berries, nonfat plain yogurt, and almonds to get even more nutrition. What better way to start the morning than eating breakfast and taking steps to keep a healthy heart.
Nutrition Tips 3: Avoiding High-Glycemic Foods
The eating of high-glycemic foods like potatoes, white bread, and white rice, will give you a burst of glucose and insulin. Over time, the repeated bursts will tire out the pancreas, which produces insulin. This will increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Eating high-glycemic foods will lead to get hungrier later and eat more at the next meal. This leads to weight gain. It is well known that people with excess fat are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors, according to the American Heart Association.
The key is to eat low-glycemic foods such as brown rice, quinoa, and barley, and try to swap them for refined grains as often as possible. When it comes to bread, make sure it contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Many breeds that are labeled “whole grain” have very little fiber but contain a small amount so they can be called “whole grain”. The first ingredient on the ingredient list should be “whole wheat flour”, not “enriched”.
Nutrition Tips 4: Eat Nuts
Unlike the past, studies have shown that eating some nuts may help lower cholesterol and lead to a healthy heart. Walnuts contain heart-healthy omega-3s, almonds boost calcium, which helps the heart muscle contract, and brazil nuts have selenium, which is shown to be a heart-protective antioxidant.
A handful of nuts(about 1 ounce) can be enjoyed daily. You can do this by adding almonds to oatmeal, muffin batter, or a salad. Nut butter can also be used and spread on apple slices. Nuts do have a lot of calories, so it is important to keep the serving size low. Go nuts for a healthy heart.
Nutrition Tips 5: Beans
Similar to oatmeal, beans contain soluble fiber and can help keep a healthy heart. Soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol and keep arteries free and clear. Switching from meat to a healthy plant-based protein in contained in black, kidney, pinto or navy beans, you’ll cut back on saturated fats, which raise cholesterol, and keep a healthy heart.
It is recommended to eat beans four to five times a week. You can hide beans in lots of places, and also layer beans in lasagna, adding them to taco filling or using several types as the “meat” in an all-bean chili. If you can’t tolerate beans and opt for the canned varieties, be sure to buy the variety without added salt and rinse thoroughly. Build up bean servings slowly because your body does adapt over time and your healthy heart will thank you.
Nutrition Tips 6: Berries
When it comes to berries, the more vibrant color, the more disease-fighting phytochemicals, or bioflavanoids, it contains. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and other berries have strong antioxidant properties that may help protect against heart disease. Plus, they’re low in calories and high in fiber.
Two cups of fruit a day is recommended for general health. Eating berries can be a part of your fruit intake. In spring and summer, go for fresh, local berries. In winter, use frozen berries to top oatmeal, mix into smoothies or add to yogurt.
Now, on to the supplements!
Unfortunately, in today’s society, a lot of people don’t get adequate nutrients supplied by diet. And some nutrients are depleted by medications to treat cardiovascular concerns. So whether consumers are looking to reduce heart-disease risk or treat an existing condition, certain herbs and supplements can make a difference. Below is some supplements to help keep a healthy heart.
1. Coenzyme Q10
Studies show that the energy carrier Co-Q10 helps treat congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmias lowers blood pressure and prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol. Also, a side effect of taking cholesterol- cutting statin medications is lower Co-Q10 levels (journal of Hypertension, 2007; Clinical Cardiology, 2004). The result: fatigue and muscle pain. It is not known if this outcome matters for heart health, but some studies show that taking supplemental Co-Q10 does reduce symptoms of muscle pain.
Best for? Anyone can take the lower doses. People with higher heart disease risk may benefit most.
How much? If you’re symptom-free, take 30 to 50 milligrams of Co-Q10 a day. If you’re on statin-class drugs or have cardiac symptoms, take 100 to 200 milligrams of CoQ10 per day, Rothfeld says.
How safe? Very.
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil sales in 2006 were $489 million, up more than $100 million from the previous year, according to Nutrition Business journal. Why the growth spurt? Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduce blood triglycerides (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004). But cholesterol isn’t the whole story. Inflammation is also a big issue and can cause arteries to clamp down and form plaque. Anti-inflammatory fish oil prevents platelets from getting too sticky so blood flows freely through arteries. Fish oil also mildly lowers blood pressure.
Best for? Everyone. Women may opt for flax seed oil instead because it lowers estrogens, protecting against cancer as well as heart disease.
How much? Look for an oil with 700 to 750 milligrams of two omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid—and take daily. If you have heart problems, you can up the dose to 2 grams of EPA and DHA per day.
How safe? Stop taking fish oil a few days before surgery because the supplement thins blood.
Studies show that extracts of hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) berries, leaves and flowers help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow through coronary arteries and treat congestive heart failure (British Journal of General Practice, 2006; The American Journal of Medicine, 2003).
Best for? Hawthorn is excellent for those with mild to moderate high blood pressure, and those with poor circulation.
How much? Take 100 to 300 milligrams of hawthorn extract two to three times a day, Stengler says.
How safe? Safe, as long as blood pressure doesn’t dip so low that you get dizzy. Also, the leaf and flower of the plant have diuretic effects and can possibly lead to dehydration.