Foods to help your heart stay healthy

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Heart-health is no exception. Cardiovascular disease is the second most common cause of death in the U.K. The good news is that 9 out of the 10 strongest risk factors for heart disease are preventable by improvements in our diet and lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet, which is full of vegetables, salads, nuts, fish and oils is known to support longevity and a healthy heart.

Most of us have come to believe that ‘low-fat’ and ‘diet’ food brands form the basis of a healthy-heart diet. However, what we now know is that this low-fat message can actually be harmful. The Mediterranean diet, which is full of vegetables, salads, nuts, fish and oils is known to support longevity and a healthy heart, yet as much as 70% of its caloric intake comes from high-fat foods.

A few simple dietary changes can make the world of difference to your cardiovascular health. Here are 10 simple nutrition tips for a healthier heart:

1. Increase your intake of fatty fish such as anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and help prevent heart disease. Although rising mercury levels in our seas are a concern, most oily fish also contain high levels of selenium, which counteracts the adverse effects of mercury exposure.

2. Choose the right oils. If cooking on a high heat, make sure you use saturated fats that have a high smoke point and will not oxidise. These include: ghee, goose and duck fat, butter, lard, (all from grass-fed organic sources), coconut oil and palm oil. If using low heat, use moderately stable monounsaturated fats such as avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, and sesame oil. Do not heat flaxseed oil and nut oils as they are easily damaged by heat.

3. Try and avoid vegetable oils entirely. They require industrial processes and, when exposed to heat, can become toxic.

4. Try to avoid trans fats. These artery-clogging fats are found in fried foods, biscuits, pastries, and French fries.

5. Increase your organic fruit and vegetable intake. Berries are full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fibre. Try blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries added to yoghurt or oatmeal. Try to get at least 10 portions of fruit and veg into your diet every day

6. Dark chocolate is good for your heart but make sure it is at least 70% cocoa and eat in moderation.

7. Nuts make a great healthy-heart snack. Walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin E, magnesium folate and fibre.

8. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates such as quinoa and brown rice. With obesity and diabetes being considered a higher risk factor than cholesterol for heart disease, avoiding foods that contain refined flour and are high in sugars and limiting your carb intake to 25g-30g a day will go a long way to reducing your risk for heart disease.

9. Small amounts of cheese and yoghurt are a good source of calcium and support cardiovascular health.

10. Finally, relax and enjoy your meals. A glass of red wine (not a bottle), rich in resveratrol and important antioxidants, has many heart-healthy benefits. The Mediterranean culture of long meals shared with many family members has its benefits as well.

Tracy Tredox is a Nutritional Therapist, living and working in London. When not consulting with clients, she posts articles, tips and recipes on current health and nutrition issues at:

Autumn issue of Thrive Magazine is OUT NOW
If you’re looking for some health ideas and recipes to kick-start your health routine, grab our Autumn Issue. At Thrive we only bring you reliable and trustworthy content, covering health, nutrition, and wellness.

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Inside this Autumn issue:

• The Brain Food Diet – foods to nourish your grey matter
• Why we’re lacking in Vitamin B12 and what does it mean
• How to eat for your specific body type
• The power of kombucha
• Different sugars and the effect they have on the body
• How Important is calcium in our diets
• Food stories with CNM – natural therapies restored my health
• The science behind our food cravings
• Yoga and nutrition – the perfect pairing
• Trusted information from industry experts on all aspects of Health, Nutrition, Fitness, Mindset…

Recipes including: Late Autumn Gazpacho / Warming Baked Squash / Avocado Sushi Mango Makis / Kale, Banana and Ginger Smoothie Bowl / Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake / Cranberry and Pumkin Seed Flapjacks

Limited copies printed.