Heart Health

Not Your Average Apple a Day: 6 Unexpected Edibles for Superior Cardiac Care | by Angela Smith | Life Matters | Dec, 2023

Heart-Healthy Grub with Gusto

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In a world where heart disease continues to claim lives, it is imperative to uncover natural strategies for safeguarding and enhancing cardiovascular health.

As a doctor who specialises in cardiovascular health, I have witnessed the devastating effects of heart disease firsthand.

However, I have also discovered many remarkable foods that can boost heart health in a safe and natural way.

Let me tell you the story behind some of these heart-healthy heroes and why they deserve a spot on your plate.

Photo by Harris Vo on Unsplash

I still remember the first time I recommended fatty fish like salmon to my patient, Joan. She had dangerously high triglyceride levels that put her at risk for heart disease. Joan began eating salmon twice a week. On her next visit, I was stunned to see her triglyceride levels had plummeted to a normal range!

The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are what make it so powerful. They reduce inflammation in the heart’s arteries and strengthen the heart rhythm. I now fondly call them “the heart guardians.” By appointing salmon and its fatty fish friends as guardians of your heart, you can let them work their protective magic.

Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber that acts like a sponge to soak up cholesterol from your body. I learned this firsthand from my patient Michael who had struggled with high cholesterol for years. After adding a bowl of oatmeal into his daily routine, his total cholesterol level dropped nearly 100 points in just three months!

I now lovingly refer to oatmeal as “the cholesterol sponge” for its remarkable ability to lower cholesterol. Beyond that, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer while boosting energy. By letting oatmeal soak up excess cholesterol, you can proactively cleanse your cardiovascular system.

If bright red strawberries and plump blueberries don’t remind you of candy, then let them instead conjure images of a healthy, vibrant heart! Berries overflow with antioxidant power to fight heart disease on multiple fronts — they lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and protect arteries.

I instruct my patients to enjoy them as a sweet snack or dessert. Berries satisfy cravings while delivering a dose of heart medicine from nature’s pharmacy. Their colorful jewels hold so much cardiovascular power in such a petite package — they are nature’s candy for the heart!

Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash

Can you believe something so decadent could also promote heart health? I used to scoff at this notion too until the evidence for dark chocolate’s cardiovascular benefits convinced this skeptical doctor.

The flavonoids in cocoa can reduce blood pressure and make blood platelets less sticky, preventing dangerous clots. Now, I actually prescribe dark chocolate to some patients and recommend a small, 1-ounce dose daily. When consumed mindfully, this sweet treat transforms into a scrumptious heart tonic. Who knew medicine could taste so good while doing so much good?

My patient Teresa was at risk for stroke and struggling to improve her diet. However, she delighted in the tart, lively flavors of citrus fruits. To my surprise, regularly incorporating oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit helped lower Teresa’s stroke risk markers dramatically!

Citrus fruits’ powerful punch comes from antioxidant vitamin C and inflammation-fighting flavonoids. Their tangy flavor also makes citrus fruits an easy, tasty addition to salads, entrees, and beverages. Let citrus fruits bring vitality to your cardiovascular system with their zesty health benefits. They offer delicious disease protection in each dazzling slice!

Never underestimate humble root vegetables! Potatoes beat out nearly every other vegetable and fruit as America’s top source of heart-healthy potassium. They also pack a hefty serving of fiber in their unassuming brown jackets.

Both nutrients team up to slash heart disease risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. But stay clear of deep frying, which robs potatoes of their natural goodness. For best results, I encourage patients to try roasted, baked or boiled potato preparations. This unassuming tuber offers easy access to vital nutrients for a healthy heart.

As a doctor, I have witnessed firsthand how food can powerfully transform patients’ cardiovascular health — often more profoundly than medication alone. Now that you know the stories behind these heart-boosting all-stars, I hope you feel empowered to let food be your medicine!

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