As we look at heart health this month, this can be a hot topic with heart disease being the leading cause of death in the US for women and men alike. But regardless of your genetic predisposition (your genetic makeup and likelihood of getting a disease) there are many things you can do to support and improve your heart. Your genes do not have to be your fate!
Five Veggies that Support Heart Health
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard are rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients are known to reduce inflammation and improve arterial health, which may help lower the risk of heart disease and therefore support heart health.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including vitamin C and folate. It also contains sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when tomatoes are cooked, so tomato sauce and canned tomatoes can be a good source. In other words, warm yourself and support your heart health with a bowl of heart healthy soup.
- Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. They are also a good source of fiber.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, and folate. It also contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress, which may help lower the risk of heart disease.
Five Fruit That Support Heart Health
- Berries: Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. They are also relatively low in calories, making them a good choice for a heart-healthy diet. Add these to your favorite yogurt or smoothie, eat as a healthy snack or flavor your water with them and support your heart in the process.
- Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and improve arterial health. They are also a good source of fiber, just make sure to eat the whole fruit instead of drinking juice which has the fiber removed.
- Apples: Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C, and they also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. They are also low in calories and can be a good choice for a heart-healthy diet. I add some cinnamon, nut butter, or homemade chocolate to them. Yum!
- Avocado: While technically a fruit, avocados are a unique source of heart-healthy nutrients. They are high in monounsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. I love making homemade guacamole with avocado and tomatoes knowing I am supporting my heart health as well as pleasing my tastebuds.
- Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a fruit that is high in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols, which can help reduce inflammation and improve arterial health. Some studies have suggested that drinking pomegranate juice may help improve heart health but it is almost always recommended to eat the fruit over drinking just the juice. Admittedly, getting to the actual fruit in a pomegranate is not easy, you can buy it pre-peeled and enjoy it as a convenient snack.
Five Supplements To Support Your Heart Health
While getting our nutrition from food is the optimal way to get nutrients, it is almost impossible to actually do that with our modern processed diets. You can check out the whole food supplement we take to bump up our intake of fruit and veggies here. And so while we still need to strive to get as much nutrition from a wholesome, balanced diet, there are supplements that can help support heart health and may be needed during certain seasons of life. Please consult with your primary care provider before adding or removing any supplements to your current life as even supplements can have contraindications with some medications or conditions.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that can be found in fatty fish like salmon, as well as in supplement form. Omega-3s have been associated with reduced inflammation and triglyceride levels, as well as improved heart health. I will admit that we do not come close to eating fish as much as we should, and therefore it is often low when I have bloodwork performed and haven’t taken supplements. Knowing that, this is one supplement I do regularly take. This is the omega supplement I prefer.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 is a nutrient that is naturally produced by the body and plays a role in energy production in cells. Some studies have suggested that CoQ10 may help improve heart health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. This enzyme is found in broccoli, fatty fish, oranges, and peanuts and is also made by our cells in the production of energy. It is vital for our cells but things like aging, vitamin B6 deficiencies, certain diseases and medications can cause lower levels so be sure to check with your doctor to find out if you could benefit from supplements.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a role in many bodily functions, including heart health. It has been associated with improved blood pressure, reduced inflammation, and improved blood sugar control. Magnesium supplements come in different forms. Liquid types like magnesium citrate or chloride may be better absorbed than solid tablets like magnesium oxide and sulfate, but different forms better support different body functions so be sure to research which form is best for you or ask your healthcare provider.
- Garlic: Garlic is a culinary ingredient that has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Garlic supplements have been associated with improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You can read more about how garlic supports not only heart health but many other areas of your health in this post I wrote.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in many bodily functions, including immune function and bone health. Some studies have suggested that vitamin D may also have a role in heart health by reducing inflammation and improving blood pressure. There are two forms of Vitamin D- D2 and D3. Research suggests that D3 is twice as effective at raising levels of vitamin D compared to vitamin D2. Vitamin D can be found in foods like fish and eggs and made by the body when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately we often don’t eat enough of these foods nor get enough sunlight, especially in winter months. These may be why low vitamin D levels are very common among many people today. If that is you make sure to find a good supplement in the form of Vitamin D3 like this one that is easily absorbed and used by your body.
Whatever your current heart health, just know you have the power to improve. You can make a choice to begin including more heart healthy foods and supplements if needed. You don’t have to change things overnight but one small change at a time can go a long way. If you need some extra support along the way, I would love to be the one to do that! Health coaching is a great way to gain support, education, and accountability to reach your goals. You can schedule a free call today by clicking here.
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