Did you know that most heart health research has been done on men’s hearts? For example, the warning signs of heart attack and stroke are different in men and women yet these differences haven’t been taught in first aid. This inequality was recognised about 20 years ago and so more funding was put into researching heart health in women. Women are much more likely to experience heart attack or stroke than to get breast cancer so heart health is just as crucial for women as it is for men.
Certain foods are brilliant for your heart as they help to clear out blockages by sweeping away cholesterol or improve the structure of the muscle tissue around the heart. Thankfully lots of these foods are delicious and easy to get into your diet. Here are my favourite heart hero ingredients:
BEANS, LENTILS, LEGUMES
GREEN VEGGIES – ESPECIALLY SPINACH, ROCKET AND KALE
OILY FISH LIKE MACKEREL, SALMON AND ANCHOVIES
WHOLEGRAINS: OATS, BR OWN RICE, QUINOA AND BULGAR WHEAT
GARLIC: From the sweet stickiness of roasted garlic to the heat of raw garlic it’s a rainbow of flavours that can reduce the plaque build up around your heart, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A true heart hero.
TOMATOES: Whether you eat tinned or fresh tomatoes you’re consuming vitamins that help your body produce anti-oxidants. This means improving your immune system which is crucial for your heart’s health.
AVOCADOS: These creamy, green fruits are a huge friend to your heart. They can lower cholesterol and their high potassium levels can reduce your blood pressure.
SEEDS: Finding ways to add seeds to your diet means you’re making it easier for your body to sweep away excess fat and cholesterol that could be a threat to your heart. All seeds have other nutritional benefits besides lowering cholesterol so it’s a win win.
WALNUTS: Most nuts have a nutritional benefit but walnuts are particularly good for heart health as they reduce both cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids which slow the growth of plaque in the arteries.
BEANS, LENTILS, LEGUMES: This family of foods have one thing in common, they reduce your blood sugar levels which improves your blood pressure which in turn puts less stress on your heart. Tinned, fresh or frozen, getting these superstars into your diet will do you good.
GREEN VEGGIES – ESPECIALLY SPINACH, ROCKET AND KALE: Beautifully dark, green vegetables have high levels of vitamin K which slows the deposits of calcium in your arteries as well as lowering blood sugar.
FATTY AND OILY FISH LIKE MACKEREL, SALMON AND ANCHOVIES: Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best things you can consume for your heart and oily fish are packed full of them.
WHOLE GRAINS: OATS, BROWN RICE, QUINOA AND BULGUR WHEAT: Wholegrain foods take longer to move through your digestive system taking more fat and cholesterol with them which is good for your heart.