Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Britain and is a so called “disease of Western civilization.” This is because heart disease was largely unheard of before 1900 and is still incredibly rare in pre-industrialised countries and communities. This is a crucial issue as is highlights the fact that, like most chronic diseases, heart disease is almost entirely caused by our dietary and lifestyle choices. In fact, current evidence suggests that up to 80% of all heart disease in the developed world is a result of lifestyle behaviors such as poor diet, insufficient exercise and high levels of stress. As such, making some small, simple and sustainable changes to our diet and lifestyle may represent the easiest, most sustainable and most powerful, evidence-based means of ensuring we don’t fall prey to this silent killer.
To facilitate this, below you will find what the current evidence suggests may be arguably the top 10 most powerful heart protecting foods available to us. Simply aim to introduce and integrate as many of these foods into your daily diet as possible in a sustainable way to help keep your heart in tip-top condition:
1. Black Beans: These delicious beans are packed with heart-healthy nutrients. Folate, antioxidants, and magnesium can help lower blood pressure. Their fibre helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Add beans to boost soups and salads.
2. Red Wine and Resveratrol: A little red wine drunk regularly (1 small glass per day with food) may be a heart-healthy choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, have been shown to protect the artery walls whilst also boosting the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). Red wine is also a primary food consumed in the Greek and Italian longevity zones, hinting at its heart and longevity protecting benefits.
3. Salmon: A top food for heart health, it’s rich in omega-3s. Omega-3s are healthy fats that have been shown to lessen the risk of heart rhythm disorders and lower blood pressure. It also lowers triglycerides and curbs inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of wild caught salmon or other oily fish a week.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A heart protecting powerhouse, it is rich in heart-healthy antioxidants that help protect your blood vessels. It helps to raise the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) whilst lowering the disease promoting bad cholesterol (LDL). Used as a replacement for saturated fats (like butter), it further reduces cardiovascular risk factors. Aim to consume daily to replace butter and drizzled over salads and cooked veggies, or with bread.
5. Walnuts: A small handful of walnuts a day lowers bad cholesterol and protects against inflammation in your heart’s arteries. Walnuts are packed with omega-3s, healthy fats called monounsaturated fats, plant sterols, and fibre.
6. Chard: This dark green, leafy vegetable is rich in potassium and magnesium. These minerals help control blood pressure. Swiss chard also has heart-healthy fibre, vitamin A, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which help to protect the heart and arteries. Try serving it as a bed for fish or sautéed with olive oil and garlic until wilted. Season with herbs and pepper.
7. Oatmeal: A warm bowl of oatmeal fills you up for hours, fights snack attacks, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable over time -- making it useful for people with diabetes. Oats’ fibre can help your heart by lowering.
Flaxseed: This shiny, honey-coloured seed is a heart healthy powerhouse that contains three things that are good for your heart: fibre, phytochemicals called lignans, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which combine to make this one of the most powerful foods to consume to keep your heart in tip top condition. Use it daily by adding it to cereal, baked goods, yogurt, or sandwiches.
9. Cherries: Sweet cherries, sour cherries, dried cherries, and cherry juice -- they’re all good for the heart. They are packed with an antioxidants called anthocyanins which have been shown to help protect blood vessels from inflammation, reduce the accumulation of arterial plaque and strengthen the heart.
10. Blueberries: Topping the super food league table, these nutritional powerhouses are fantastic for keeping the heart healthy. They are loaded with anthocyanins which keep the blood vessels flexible and free of inflammation and plaque build-up. They also strengthen the heart and optimise heart rhythm. Add fresh or dried blueberries to cereal, pancakes, or yogurt.
Bonus Herbal Heart Tonic
Aside from these simple nutritional modifications, the addition of a single herbal remedy into your daily supplement regime may provide some of the most powerful heart specific protection available to us. Hawthorn Berry is revered as the most powerful heart tonic herb on the planet. Dozens of studies have shown that Hawthorn supplementation improves a wide range of crucial cardiac markers including optimising blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and exercise tolerance. In healthy individuals it acts preventatively to keep the heart and vascular system working optimally whilst it also helps to treat imbalances such as hypertension, palpitations, angina and elevated cholesterol. Furthermore, Hawthorn Berry has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This is important as inflammation is the root cause of most cardiovascular disease. Therefore as a one-stop-shop for powerfully optimising collective heart health, the inclusion of Hawthorn Berry into your daily supplement routine may be one of the most important additions you can make. However, as with all herbs and supplements, be sure to check with your GP, medical herbalist or health care provider before using Hawthorn Berry if you are on any form of prescription medications (particularly heart medications), are pregnant or breast feeding or are under medical supervision for any health concerns or diseases. If you want to include a top quality Hawthorn Berry supplement into your daily self-care routine, please visit our SHOP.
bad cholesterol (LDL). Aside from breakfast, whenever you make pancakes, muffins, or other baked goods, simply swap out one-third of the flour and put in oats instead.