Prepared by Samantha Bourne DipNT mBANT CNHC NTC Registered Nutritional Therapist
Every year the British Heart Foundation declares February National Heart Month.
The health of our hearts is hugely influenced by the foods that we consume and the lifestyles we lead. We have the phrase ‘Lifestyle medicine’ and this is exactly what your heart needs.
What are you eating to support your heart on a daily basis?
Your heart relies heavily on a healthy diet and over time this could mean the difference between robust health or suffering from heart disease related conditions, which cause around 160,000 deaths each year*. Unhealthy fats are very damaging to heart health, as are toxins from smoking, pollution and excessive alcohol.
Here we outline some key nutrition and lifestyle components that contribute to healthy heart health.
Omega3 and 6 fatty acids, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin K2, Folate, CoEnzyme10, Resveratrol, Polyphenols, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and E along with exercise, reduced stress and a routine eating schedule.
- Healthy oils: oily fish, olive oil, sesame oil, tahini, fresh walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed oil, fresh almonds
- Plant foods that contain fibre and anti-oxidants: Brown rice, oats, barley, whole-grains, apples, hard pears, stalky vegetables, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, edamame, tempeh, sweet potato, whole oranges, flaxseed fibre, red cabbage, kale, spinach, collard greens and chard, cauliflower, dark skinned fruit and vegetables, tart cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, avocados, black grapes.
- Flavours: Adding herbs and spices enables you to reduce salt and sugar, these also contain heart healthy antioxidants: Ginger, sage, oregano, rosemary, garlic, celery, thyme, seaweed, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, chilli, cumin, coriander and many more.
- Things to reduce or remove: Sugar, Salt, solid fats except a little butter, deep fried foods, red meats, pink meats (bacon/ham etc) junk foods, refined flour products.
- Eating schedule: Avoid late night eating, large portions and unrelaxed eating.
- Get active: One of the best things to protect your heart is to be active. Even 20 minutes a day of getting your heart rate up with be protective.
- Calm your stress response: Learn to deep breath in times of stress, allowing your heart to relax and stabilise before you respond to a work, family or life stressor will protect your heart.
* Facts and figures, BHF