The month of February is a great time to focus on heart health. Food is your first line of defense against cardiovascular disease and its many complications. There are specific nutrients your heart needs to function optimally and I’m excited to share them with you today.
Before I begin diving into the top 5 foods for heart health I’d like to talk about eating healthy in general.
- First, variety is important. It is not wise to eat a small set of foods and ignore the rest out there. Health comes from variety, as we are a whole person, not a heart, liver, or kidney.
- You can’t eat 5 healthy foods and then a bunch of sugary, over-processed, chemical-filled crap and expect to be healthy. Your favorite processed foods should only take up about 10% of all the food you take in every week.
- You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to do a complete 180 in one day. If you don’t eat great but you want to get better, start by adding a vegetable to half of your plate with whatever you are currently eating. I don’t care if it’s a Big Mac, Corn Dog, Pizza, or Taco Bell. Make half of your plate vegetables and eat them first. Then eat whatever you would normally eat. Try out new, healthier recipes on the weekends when you have more time and less pressure. Then add that into your weekly routine. It’s okay for you to tackle your health in phases and small steps. They add up quicker than you think.
If you want help figuring this all out in a short amount of time, please look into my Meal Planning Program. You will see what a healthy diet looks like and get into the habit of cooking healthy and eating a variety of foods without much effort on your part.
Top 5 Foods For Heart Health
Berries are not only delicious, but they are also full of antioxidants and nutrients including folate, iron, vitamin C, and calcium. They are also low in calories and sugar, making them a great snack. I like to have my berries with some chocolate chips in the evenings.
4. Fish and Seafood
You need omega-3 fatty acids for a variety of reasons and your heart health is one of them. Omega-3’s have been shown to
- Decrease triglycerides
- Lower blood pressure slightly
- Reduce blood clotting
- Decrease your risk of strokes and heart failure risk
- Reduce irregular heartbeats
Two servings per week are the current recommendations. A few ways I love to enjoy fish are to make salmon topped with pesto sauce paired with roasted asparagus, and my glass noodle shrimp bowl recipe.
3. Leafy Greens
Remember last week’s email on how to make a hearty salad at home? It’ll really come in handy now!
- Leafy greens like
- swiss chard
are nutrient powerhouses and anti-inflammatory to the body. One key nutrient the heart needs is magnesium and leafy greens are rich with it and don’t need all the sugar chocolate does to get it. So add a salad with your lunch, toss some spinach into your soups, and sautee them with garlic, onion, and salt to pair with your favorite fish.
2. Green Tea
They don’t know why or how much but studies show people who drink green tea have lower cholesterol and blood pressure than non-tea drinkers. We do know that it
- contains polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory and fight cancer
- can help you lose weight faster
- is full of many antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress on the body
- may help reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity
All of which can help reduce your risk of developing CVD. Enjoy it unsweet or as a treat, in a matcha latte.
1. Animal Heart
Yup, animal hearts are great for our own heart health. The reason is that their hearts contain nutrients our hearts need, specifically CoQ10. CoQ10 is pretty well known and is one of the most popular supplements out there. Studies have shown that CoQ10
- reduces the chances of repeat heart attacks
- improves outcomes for those with heart failure
- protective effects against CVD and heart attacks
Levels in our bodies start dropping in our 20’s and have to be supplemented either through food or pill. The earlier you start supplementing the better. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of medicine so they say.
This probably weirds you out and it did me many years ago. However, once I learned just how important consuming organ meats are to our health, I started experimenting. I found that I like to chop the heart in my food processor then add it to ground beef to make meatballs or burgers. It tastes exactly like ground beef and the food processor makes it more tender.
Other sources of CoQ10 are liver, kidney, and sardines.
A healthy cardiovascular system is a holistic effort. Good nutrition combined with regular exercise, mitigating stress, healthy physical touch, and our relationships all play a role in heart health.