Can we just take a moment to appreciate your heart? Long before you were even born, when you were still a tiny embryo a mere 6 weeks old, your heart began beating. And it’s been quietly chugging along, circulating your blood and distributing the oxygen and nutrients you need to survive and thrive throughout your entire body.
Your heart is an incredible piece of machinery that literally keeps you alive, so it’s worth making a little extra effort to help it stay in tip-top shape for your entire lifetime. That’s why a few months ago I shared the details on three foods your heart craves that you should add to your menu.
Hopefully you’ve already done that. Today I want to share three MORE heart-friendly superfoods you should put on your shopping list to have a happy healthy heart for years to come.
As you age your body makes less of a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, which is vital for energy production. And it turns out broccoli is an excellent source of the substance.
When your NAD levels start to drop you can suffer all sorts of negative signs of aging, including muscle weakness and the heart problems that can be linked to that. (Remember, your heart is essentially a muscle.) Your liver function is also affected, which can drive your blood lipids out of balance. And insulin resistance typically increases, raising your risk for diabetes and the heart problems that go hand-in-hand with the disease.1,2
Broccoli is also rich in the heart-friendly compound indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which early research has found may help protect your heart against failure.3 And experts say eating more broccoli and other cruciferous veggies is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.4
Omega-3 fatty acids, like you’ll find in seafood, are great for your heart health. But experts say EPA and DHA specifically are the true key to the fatty acids’ heart-protecting power.5,6,7,8
Research conducted at the Mayo Clinic found that the more EPA and DHA you have in your diet the lower your risk for heart disease. In fact, according to the researchers, even if you have high triglycerides or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol a diet high in EPA and DHA can help reduce your risk by 14 to 16 percent.9
Mackerel, an often overlooked fish, is one of the very best sources of both of these heart-friendly fatty acids, with a single cup bringing over 6,900 milligrams of omega-3s to the table.
But mackerel’s benefits don’t end with the omegas, with every serving you also get an incredible 342 percent of your daily requirements for D. And since low D levels are linked to heart disease that’s nothing to sneeze at.10
Plus one cup of mackerel supplies 271 percent of your heart-healthy B12 needs for the day. The B vitamins help control your homocysteine levels, which are associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.11,12
Spinach is rich in several nutrients your heart craves to stay healthy.
A cup of the leafy greens delivers 56 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Experts say vitamin A plays an important role in the structure and function of your heart, and the vital vitamin can help fight the thickening of the heart that’s seen with chronic high blood pressure.13
Spinach also provides around 14 percent of the vitamin C we require in a day, which research shows may help fight heart disease by keeping your small blood vessels relaxed and dilated.14,15,16 Higher vitamin C levels are associated with up to a 42 percent lower risk of stroke.17,18
Around 20 percent of your daily recommended value of magnesium is packed into a serving of spinach too. Magnesium is vital for proper muscle function, which makes it a must have to keep your heart beating properly.
Spinach is also one of the richest sources of heart-friendly vitamin K available. Vitamin K protects your arteries and blood vessels by helping your body properly use calcium. A diet high in K may lower your risk of vascular damage caused by a buildup of calcium.19,20 In a study out of the Netherlands, researchers found that a diet high in vitamin K could slash your arterial calcification and heart risk by 50 percent.21
Your heart’s hard at work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Be sure to give it the fuel it needs to thrive. Add these three heart-supporting foods to your menu starting today.
1. “Long-Term Administration of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Mitigates Age-Associated Physiological Decline in Mice,” Cell Metabolism, Volume 24, Issue 6, p795–806, 13 December 2016
2. “Nicotinamide mononucleotide supplementation reverses vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress with aging in mice,” Aging Cell, Volume 15, Issue 3, June 2016, Pages 522–530
3. “Indole-3-carbinol protects against pressure overload induced cardiac remodeling via activating AMPK-α,” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Apr 27
4. “Identification of human urinary biomarkers of cruciferous vegetable consumption by metabonomic profiling,” J Proteome Res. 2011 Oct 7;10(10):4513-21
5. “Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: epidemiology and effects on cardiometabolic risk factors,” Food Funct. 2014 Sep;5(9):2004-19
6. “Update on cardiometabolic health effects of ω-3 fatty acids,” Curr Opin Lipidol. 2014 Feb;25(1):85-90
7. “Omega-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease,” Curr Opin Lipidol. 2012 Dec;23(6):554-9
8. “n-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1477S-1482S
9. “A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies of Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease Risk,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 92, Issue 1, 15–29
10 “Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease,” Am J Med Sci. 2009 Jul; 338(1): 40–44
11. “Homocysteine Lowering with Folic Acid and B Vitamins in Vascular Disease,” N Engl J Med 2006; 354:1567-1577
12. “Study of Serum Homocysteine, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 in Patients with Preeclampsia,” Indian J Clin Biochem. 2011 Jul; 26(3): 257–260
13. “Vitamin A for the heart: progress for cardiac hypertrophy regression?,” American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology Published 1 February 2008 Vol. 294 no. 2, H588-H589
14. “Long-term ascorbic acid administration reverses endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease,” Circulation. 1999 Jun 29;99(25):3234-40
15. “Role of marginal vitamin C deficiency in atherogenesis: in vivo models and clinical studies.,” Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Jun;104(6):419-33
16. “Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans,” Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jun;69(6):1086-107
17. “Serum vitamin C concentration was inversely associated with subsequent 20-year incidence of stroke in a Japanese rural community. The Shibata study,” Stroke. 2000 Oct;31(10):2287-94
18. “Plasma vitamin C concentrations predict risk of incident stroke over 10 y in 20 649 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Norfolk prospective population study,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):64-9
19. “Regression of Warfarin-Induced Medial Elastocalcinosis by High Intake of Vitamin K in Rats,” Blood 109, 2823–2831 (2007)
20. “The Circulating Inactive Form of Matrix Gla Protein (ucMGP) as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Calcification,” J. Vasc. Res. 45, 427–436 (2008)
21. “Dietary Intake of Menaquinone is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study,” J. Nutr. 134, 3100–3105 (2004)
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