Almost one in five men and one in eight women in the UK die from cardiovascular disease and as we age, the chance of dying from a heart attack increases. Simple changes to your daily diet can support your heart.
Good heart supporting foods are all there in the Mediterranean Diet,
* High fruits and vegetables
* Whole grains and legumes
* Protein mainly in the form of fish
* VERY LITTLE red meat
* Chicken, preferably grilled
* High consumption of mono-unsaturated fatty acids i.e. from olives and olive oils
* Omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon
* Alpha-linolenic acid from nuts, seeds and walnuts**
* Garlic, raw and cooked
** Walnuts are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid and have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
For cooking it is important to use a fat which is stable at high temperatures, such as coconut butter which does not produce trans-fats.
Garlic features heavily in the Mediterranean diet and research has found that it boosts our supply of hydrogen sulphide which acts an antioxidant and promotes blood vessel dilation, helping to support normal blood pressure levels.
Elevated levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid formed in the body as a breakdown product of protein metabolism, is believed to contribute to damaged arteries and considered to be a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High homocysteine is associated with low levels of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid. To increase these important vitamins in the diet eat plenty of:
Whole grains such as, brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat
nuts, beans, lentils, seeds
green leafy vegetables and avocados
Good sources of B12 include:
sardines, cottage cheese, turkey, chicken and eggs
Oxidised lipoproteins are believed to contribute to hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Antioxidant vitamins such as C and E and the mineral selenium help combat the free radical damage that induces oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). Boost your antioxidant intake by eating:-
a 'rainbow' - blueberries, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and citrus fruits
Another important antioxidant for the heart is coenzyme Q10. This is made in the body and is used for cell energy. Foods that contain coenzyme Q10 are:-
Oily fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Soluble fibre helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Sources are:-
Fruits, vegetables and oats*
*A great start to the day is porridge.