In honour of the day of love – why not treat your heart to some of these nutritious foods!
Nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, heart healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. A large 2011 study found that swapping nuts for red meat as a leaner source of protein resulted in a 17 percent lower risk of stroke. The unsaturated fat in nuts can help reduce cholesterol in comparison to eating red meat, but nuts are still high in fat and calories, so be aware of portion sizes. So snack with nuts to keep your heart happy – walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts. Avoid the salted variety.
2. Oily Fish
Oily fish is a great source of health promoting omega-3 fatty acids. The main benefits of omega-3 for heart health include its ability to reduce triglycerides (a type of fat and risk factor for heart disease and stroke) in the blood, help to prevent the blood from clotting, has a positive effect on blood pressure, help regulate the rhythm of the heart beat, and assist in keeping the lining of the blood vessels healthy and working well.
These fatty acids hit the headlines about 40 years ago when researchers noticed that Eskimos in Greenland consumed a diet rich in fat; however they had a surprisingly low level of deaths from coronary heart disease. The Eskimos’ Diet included a lot of oily fish such as mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon, which contain valuable omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.
Supplementation with a pure natural fish oil such as Eskimo-3 is required if oily fish isn’t eaten at least twice a week.
Blueberries are the king of berries. Blueberries are a great source of anthocyanin’s, which may help to counter the build-up of plaque and improve cardiovascular health. According to one study, women who eat three or more servings a week of blueberries or strawberries may reduce their risk of heart disease. Blueberries are very high in antioxidants, low in calories, low in sugar and a great snack choice to keep your heart healthy. Tip: Increase your blueberry intake by mixing blueberries with greek yoghurt, sprinkled on porridge or chia pudding or use in a healthy smoothie.
Tomatoes contain important nutrients, such as niacin, folate and vitamin B6, which have associated with the reduction of heart disease risk. They are also rich in lycopene, a wonderful antioxidant, which offers protection to blood vessels around the heart. One study found that women who ate 7 to 10 servings of tomato products per week had a 29 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than women who consumed less than a serving and a half of tomato products each week.
Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. Avocados have also been shown to help with nutrient absorption and are packed with antioxidants, which are always good!
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in olive oil polyphenols which are powerful antioxidant compounds that help prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidised, making it less likely to start clogging up the inside of the artery walls. Olive oil is a staple part of the Mediterranean Diet, which has long been known for its cardio protective properties.
7. Dark Chocolate
For chocolate lovers everywhere, dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is heart friendly. Dark Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which help prevent the plaque build-up in the arteries.
Oats contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan that studies have shown reduces levels of bad cholesterol—and as high cholesterol is a major risk factor associated with heart disease and strokes, a daily bowl of porridge is a simple change that could make a big difference. Have porridge made with coconut milk and sprinkled with blueberries and chopped nuts for a heart healthy breakfast.
Eating beans regularly is good for your heart, and you don’t need to eat a lot of them to benefit. Beans are high in soluble fibre which binds to cholesterol, preventing absorption in the gut, thus having a cholesterol lowering effect. Beans contain a variety of heart-protective chemicals, including flavonoids, compounds also found in berries and chocolate that inhibit the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.
10. Red Wine
Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant compound. Resveratrol also protects your heart and arteries against the effects of saturated fat in your diet, so drinking one or two glasses of red wine a day can help protect your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Happy Valentines Day… Hope you have a healthy, happy weekend!
Eskimo-3 is available in health stores and pharmacies nationwide, and at Eskimo3.ie!