Cardiovascular disease still kills an average of one person every three minutes in the UK. The economic burden of the disease in the UK is over 15 billion pounds annually, while the WHO states that three quarters of cardiovascular diseases could be avoided with correct diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Below are the top 5 foods to enjoy as well as to avoid when considering the health of your heart. They appeared on the Health For Men magazine earlier this year.
5 FOODS FOR A HEALTHY HEART
1. COLOURFUL, NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES
Source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients, colourful vegetables are the centrepiece of a heart healthy diet. Aim to include a portion the size of your fist in every meal with a minimum of two different colours. Increase this to two fistfuls after a few weeks of adjusting to the increased fibre.
2. FATTY FISH & FLAX SEED
Small, cold-water fish like sardines, herring and anchovies or small but mighty flaxseeds are all a source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils. Fresh, non-rancid oil directly from these foods (or as a good quality supplement) helps the body to modulate inflammation, often an underlying cause of heart disease.
One of our strongest anti-inflammatory herbs. Enjoy in foods as a spice, as turmeric tea ('Golden Milk"), in smoothies and juices or as a supplement (look for ones with black pepper, or piperine, in them to help absorption). Heart disease is underpinned by inflammation, and herbs like turmeric (and rosemary and ginger) can help to manage this. Having your turmeric with some fatty foods, like avocado, some seeds or in a curry with coconut milk helps the active molecules to be absorbed from the intestines.
4. COLOURFUL BERRIES
Another rich source of antioxidants and vitamins and lower in sugars compared to most fruits. Defrosted frozen berries are a great option and sometimes more nutritious than fresh, as storage and transport can reduce the nutrient values of fresh produce.
5. HIGH QUALITY LEAN PROTEIN
The quality our protein is imperative; don’t’ forget to use plant protein sources such as lentils, beans and tofu and enjoy lean animal protein in moderate quantities, leaving a day or a two a week for purely vegetarian meals.
5 WORST FOODS FOR THE HEALTH OF YOUR HEART
1. PROCESSED & TAKE-AWAY FOODS
Considerable source of trans fats, which have been shown to increase inflammation and negatively alter our cholesterol composition. Healthy hearts dietary enemy number one.
2. SOFT DRINKS
Sugars and sweeteners induce a hormonal cascade, which is harmful systemically, let alone for your heart. Soft drinks can also leach potassium out of the body, at worst leading to hypokalemia (potassium deficiency), which effectively scrambles the functionality of your cells.
While red wine in modest quantities is part of a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, alcohol in itself is nothing but liquid full of nutrient-void calories. Excessive drinking may also lead to unhealthy eating patterns.
4. WHITE BREAD, CAKES AND BISCUITS
Nutrient-void, the negative effects of refined grains are comparable to sugar. High intake of sugars and refined grains can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), where fat accumulates to liver. NAFLD can have serious metabolic consequences and can lead to a pre-diabetic condition called metabolic syndrome.
Ok – not a food, but quitting smoking has been shown to have nearly immediate positive effects for the heart. The improvements are so considerable, that smoking has been highlighted in all of the research looking at cardiovascular disease risk factors. If there is one thing you start with from this list, start with this! To find out how to get help quitting smoking in the UK, click HERE
For Your Health!