We’re celebrating Heart Health Month in February because healthy hearts matter. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women and men in the U.S. and it is estimated that 17 million people worldwide die of it every year. While some risk factors are genetic, heart disease is considered a lifestyle disease because certain actions and habits contribute to higher risk such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking. Today we’re taking a look at nutrition that supports heart health so you can eat your way to a healthier heart!
CoQ10 or Coenzyme 10*: This powerful antioxidant helps protect the mitochondrial epicenter of cells and stabilizes blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a normal range. CoQ10 even assists people who already have congestive heart failure by improving heart health. It is found in beef, some fish and vegetables including spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
Selenium*: It’s technically a mineral but it acts as a coenzyme as well to detect and quash free radicals that threaten the integrity of cells. Selenium is naturally found in meats, some fish and some nuts.
*Interestingly, a recent study shows that the combination of CoQ10 and selenium supplements may reduce risk of heart disease by 50%
Vitamin C: This vitamin is a tremendous antioxidant that helps prevent oxidative stress on cells. Vitamin C overpowers C-reactive proteins in the bloodstream, which are an inflammatory indication of heart disease. Vitamin C can also help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. Citrus fruits are jam-packed with Vitamin C as well as many other fruits and vegetables.
Magnesium: The heart is both an organ and a muscle. Magnesium is vital to proper muscle function to keep the heart pumping properly and to balance other nutrient levels in the body. Magnesium is prevalent in leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and more.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The hype about Omega-3 fatty acids is all true. It helps reduce inflammation, which keeps blood flowing smoothly around the body. It also supports lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Salmon has both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, while other sources like flax contain ALA that must be converted by the body into EPA and DHA.
Folate: Folate helps produce the amino acid homocysteine that reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. It is most commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and other types of lettuces.
Polyphenols: These magnificent antioxidants support nitric oxide that help blood vessels contract and relax to pump blood. Polyphenols are also associated with higher levels of HDL, the good type of cholesterol. They are found in berries.
Monounsaturated Fats: Not all fats are the same. Monounsaturated fats are good fats like those in avocados, nuts and certain vegetable oils. They can help reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels and increase good HDL cholesterol levels.
Hearth health is a serious matter. Because it is a lifestyle disease, you have much control over how to prevent cardiovascular disease. Nutrition is one important step to reducing your risk of this leading cause of death. We wish you much heart health in 2017!
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, One Green Planet, NIUME, Natural Health 365, Healthaliciousness and Mind Body Green