The food you eat either helps you or hurts you. What are heart healthy foods?
Your heart is a muscular pump that collects your blood then pumps it throughout your body. One side pumps it through your lungs to oxygenate it then the other side pumps the oxygenated blood everywhere else.
Last time I talked about the foods that support your liver, and that one of the primary functions of your liver is to filter toxins out of your blood. Your heart makes sure that your blood gets there to be cleaned.
This time I am going to share with you some answers to the question, “what are heart healthy foods?”
Which Fat is Most Heart Healthy?
When you look at answers to “what are heart healthy foods” you have to look at fats. Fats as a whole have gotten a really bad reputation thanks to the processed fats that have come out of the manufactured food-like substance industry. That’s really unfair because there are many fats that your body needs to stay healthy. Especially your brain.
It turns out that your heart can benefit from the right fats as well. From what I have been able to find, there are two groups of fats that can really benefit your heart. The first are monounsaturated fats. They have the ability to reduce cholesterol and lower your blood sugar.
Great food sources for monounsaturated fats include olives and olive oil, many nuts (including walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts) and of course, the avocado.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You may not have known about the monounsaturated fats but I am sure you’ve heard of some of the benefits of the omega-3s. They can help to lower the triglyceride levels in your blood and reduce the chance of your blood clotting in your veins.
Fish, especially the oily fish like salmon and tuna, are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. Vegetarian sources include flaxseed oil, canola oil and walnuts. Kale contains some omega-3 fat as well.
Fiber for Heart Health
What are heart healthy foods? Let’s look at fiber. Everybody has heard that it’s good to have fiber in your diet. For the most part, that means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fiber is the part of plants that we cannot digest, and that is what provides us the health benefits.
There are two kids of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves and becomes like a gel that slows down digestion. That helps you feel full longer after you eat. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve at all and help to aid elimination to keep your digestive tract healthy.
Soluble fiber is what helps the heart the most. It helps to lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. You can increase your soluble fiber intake by eating whole grains, oatmeal and beans. Most plants are going to get you some mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Lots and Lots of Antioxidants
It used to be easier to talk about antioxidants. The word itself was enough to distinguish the category and vitamin C was all you needed to know. Now there are flavonoids, catechins, polyphenols, anthocyanins and probably many more that I still haven’t heard of. An “antioxidant” is a chemical that helps to reduce the oxidation of compounds and tissues in your body, or the effects of that oxidation. What are heart healthy foods? You have to look at antioxidants.
Oxidation in your body equals aging.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury. It is your body’s way to stabilize an area until you can get proper medical attention. Chronic inflammation, that is inflammation that lasts a long time, is a bad thing because it makes your body have to work harder to compensate for it. Inflammation is also your body’s response to oxidation in a lot of cases.
When you have a lot of inflammation (swelling), your heart has to work harder to push the blood through all of it. In your arteries, inflammation has the same effect as closing a lane or two on the highway during rush hour.
One of the biggest benefits you get from the antioxidants in your diet is a reduction in inflammation. Naturally, if you have antioxidants running around stopping rampant oxidation and repairing the damage from past oxidation, your body won’t have to respond with as much inflammation. Then your heart won’t have to work as hard to pump your blood.
Plaque is another issue that reduces the flow of blood through your arteries, making your heart have to work harder. It is caused by the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in your arteries. Antioxidants, such as some of the flavonoids in an apples and pomegranates, help to reduce this oxidation.
Fruits, especially berries, are great sources of may of the antioxidants that help the whole body, not just the heart. Strawberries, red and black raspberries, bilberries, and blueberries are excellent examples. The super fruits that have become so popular in the past several years are high in very strong antioxidants. These super fruits include the acai berry and the maqui berry.
Your Heart Has Its Own Electrical System
Did you know that? It does. Your body relies on it’s electrical system, the nervous system, to pass signals to cause your muscles to contract, and your heart is the most important muscle in your body. If something happens to your body’s electrical system, all of your muscles would go limp, but your heart will keep right on beating.
To do that, it needs to maintain the proper concentrations of electrolytes around your heart. That means it needs a constant supply of sodium and calcium to generate its electrical pulses.
Getting adequate calcium in your diet as well as vitamin D to process the calcium is important. Your heart also wants potassium to help manage its sodium levels as well.
Bananas, potatoes and avocados are great sources for potassium. Broccoli, kale, and a lot of the beans are good sources of calcium.
If you are a tea drinker then you may know that Earl Grey is flavored with an extract from the peal of the bergamot fruit. The bergamot essential oil also comes from the peal. The bergamot extract that I am talking about comes from the actual fruit itself.
Studies conducted on bergamot fruit extract have shown that it can
- Reduce LDL cholesterol that can get oxidized and form plaques in your arteries
- Raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind)
- Lower triglycerides that get stored as fat and can cause blood clots
- Lower your blood sugar levels
- Contains flavonoids and polyphenols, some of those antioxidants I mentioned before.
- Remove fatty deposits in your liver
You can’t eat bergamot fruit straight. It is very bitter. So you have to get it as an extract in some other form. I drink an ounce of Bergisterol, a drink that contains bergamot extract, every night before I go to bed.
As I said in my last post, the one about supporting your liver, the best supplements are made from the actual foods that support an organ or organ system. In this case, the best supplements for your heart are made from the foods I mentioned above.
I just told you about my favorite supplement, Bergisterol. I also sometimes take an omega fats supplement that contains flax seed oil and an algae that are high in omega-3 as well as the other important omega fatty acids. Animal-sourced omega fats go rancid faster than plant-based omega fats, so try to use plant-sourced omega fats if you can.
What are Heart Healthy Foods?
So what are heart healthy foods? All I talked about were some of the foods that give your heart the things that it needs, and that relieve conditions that make your heart have to work harder.
Exercise plays a big part is keeping it healthy too, obviously. Exercises that increase your heart rate for a little while and periods when it can slow down, like during sleep or meditation are all very important.
What do you do to take care of your heart? Please share in a comment below and use a couple of the buttons to share this post with your followers on social media. I really appreciate that.
Disclaimer & disclosure – I am not a doctor and I make no medical claims. These are my opinions based on my study. I am an independent distributor for the supplements that I use and recommend and may earn a commission if you order them through the links on this page.