February is here! This means we’re all hearing and reading lots in the media about being more aware of the health of our hearts.

This has been a hot topic for many years, given that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. And thankfully, we are listening!

The primary risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Heredity
  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

We can’t control our genetics, the heredity factor, or our age, but we can certainly do lots about the rest of them. Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, reducing or managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight are factors that we have some degree of control in – yay!

As far as diet goes, it was once believed that a high level of blood cholesterol and fats were the primary causal factor behind cardiovascular disease, however new research is suggesting that hydrogenated fats and refined sugar is strongly linked to heart disease.

From a holistic nutrition perspective, what exactly does “eating well” for your heart mean?  The common question I get asked is, “What exactly are the foods that are good for my heart?”

Here’s the answer!

SALMON: Contains large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids which lowers the risk of developing an irregular heart beat, plaque build up in the arteries and even decreases triglycerides.

OATMEAL: The soluble fibre content in oatmeal can not only help lower cholesterol, and can also absorb the cholesterol before it enters the bloodstream

BLUEBERRIES: Rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanin, and flavonoids that can decrease blood pressure and dilate the blood vessels, to help reduce the risk of heart attack.

DARK CHOCOLATE: Rich in flavonoids, specifically known as polyphenols, that can aid in regulating blood pressure, helps clotting and inflammation in the body.

SOY: Rich in polyunsaturated fats, and fibre, can reduce high blood pressure in high carbohydrate diets. As well, can decrease LDL cholesterol levels.

POTATOES: High in potassium that can aid in diminishing the risk for heart disease.

TOMATOES: A good source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant and carotenoid, this helps lower the “bad” cholesterol levels, keeps blood vessels healthy and lower the risk of heart attack.

NUTS: (Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Peanuts and Macadamias) Full of Vitamin E, which aids in lowering bad cholesterol levels.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: The monounsaturated fats found in this oil, can help decrease blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduces the risks of strokes and heart attacks by 30%!

AVOCADO: Helps in managing blood pressure due to the potassium content.

SPINACH: Regulates homocysteine (amino acid) and narrowing of the arteries.

ORANGES: Hesperidin helps to balance blood pressure in the body and protect the arteries from damage.

Here are some of our favourite heart-healthy, easy and delicious snacks.  Enjoy!

grapes-walnuts

cinnamon-toasted-pecans

spicy-roasted-red-pepper-soup

Keys to foster good heart health:

  • regular exercise
  • stress reduction
  • quit smoking
  • limit alcohol consumption
  • get adequate quality sleep
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • eating well
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