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Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

Eating for a Healthy Heart

Jan 31, 2020 10:11AM ● By Chrysanthi Kazantzis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One person dies every 37 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease. One in four deaths are from heart disease each year. High blood pressure, high cholesterol as well as diabetes, obesity, smoking and alcohol are all risk factors for heart disease. 

The best way to mitigate this chronic disease is eating your way to a healthy heart. Certain foods can influence blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and inflammation. Here are seven top foods and four top supplements to focus on to improve heart health. 

Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, swiss chard are all a great source of vitamin K and magnesium which help reduce blood pressure, improve artery function and proper blood clotting.

Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are all rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins which protect against inflammation and oxidative stress that contributes to heart disease. Anthocyanins also improve the function of the endothelial cells, which are the cells that line the blood vessels and control blood pressure. 

Avocados: Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats that are known to decrease cholesterol and risk of heart disease. They are also high in potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure.

Fatty fish: Sources like salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies and mackerel are high in Omega-3 fatty acids which help lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar. Aim for one to two servings per week. 

Garlic: Garlic is high in a compound called allicin, which helps reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. It also decreases blood pressure and blood clot formation. 

Walnuts: Walnuts are high in fiber, alpha linolenic acid and minerals like magnesium, manganese and copper. They have been shown to decrease LDL and blood pressure and overall risk for heart disease. 

Olive oil: This oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet which is considered the top diet to follow for cardiovascular disease. It is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants which decrease blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Use this at room temperature by drizzling it over salads or cooked dishes. 

Supplements to Consider
Fish oil: Helps to decrease high cholesterol and triglycerides. A naturopathic doctor can test the Omega-3 index to show the amount of omega fatty acids in the body. 

Vitamin D: Testing vitamin D levels is important as a deficiency in vitamin D can increase blood pressure.

CoQ10: This is the number one antioxidant for the heart to keep the heart muscle healthy and strong. 

Electrolytes: Maintaining electrolyte balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium keeps blood pressure stable and the heart muscle functioning well.

It is important to discuss taking supplements with your naturopathic physician to determine the proper dosing, quality of the product and any potential interaction with other medications. 

Chrysanthi Kazantzis “Dr. Kaz” is a naturopathic physician and a clinical nutritionist. She is the President of RIANP and practices at Providence Wholistic Healthcare where she is accepting new patients. Call 401-455-0546 to make an appointment. See ad on page 15.