Dr. Kassam Keeping Your Heart Healthy with these 10 Super Foods

Keeping Your Heart Healthy with these 10 Super Foods

Written By: Dr. Saira Kassam, ND

Early detection and prevention are fundamental in reducing your risk of heart disease! Catching the signs early can ensure you live a long and healthy life.  Even if you do not suffer from heart disease, there is a high chance that you know someone who has high cholesterol or high blood pressure. My last article was focused on recognizing the signs and today's post will focus on the simple things we can do on a daily basis to prevent disease and keep our hearts beating and healthy!

Cardiovascular conditions can be positively influenced by lifestyle modifications like reducing risk factors such as, alcohol, smoking or being overweight and promoting healthy behaviours like diet and exercise. Naturopathic medicine has at its disposal a variety of effective interventions for heart disease.  Various nutritional interventions including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, C, E and minerals like zinc, calcium and magnesium have shown to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. These vitamins and minerals can be found in the foods you eat every day!                                                                                                                      

Foods for a Healthy Heart

  • Blueberries and other berries – Full of antioxidants! Antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. They neutralize all the free radicals running around in your body
  • Spinach and other dark leafy green vegetables – Also full of antioxidants and minerals! It is important to rotate your leafy greens so you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. Spinach is high in Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, folate, potassium and fibre, which are all amazing for your heart!
  • Fish Oil – Contains essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA that have great anti-inflammatory effects. Fish oil has shown to lower LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels and raise HDL cholesterol.
  • Flax and chia seeds – High in Omega 3 fatty acids. These play a key role in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol through its anti-inflammatory actions
  • Walnuts and Almonds – Excellent source of monounsaturated fats, magnesium, fibre and B vitamins.  
  • Salmon - Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chose wild specific salmon when you can
  • Oats – Contain Beta-Glucans, which are a source of dietary fibre. They have shown to lower cholesterol in the body.
  • Avocados – Contain the healthy fat, oleic acid which helps to lower LDL cholesterol
  • Garlic – This is a great antioxidant with cardioprotective effects. It has shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL levels
  • Cocoa This is derived from cocoa plants and found predominantly in dark chocolate. Cocoa powder or butter is high in flavonoids which lower LDL cholesterol and improves overall heart health.

** Avoid trans fats – Trans fats are found in many processed foods and are made through the process of hydrogenation. These fats can increase the bad cholesterol in the body and increase the risk of heart disease.

Try this delicious heart-healthy smoothie incorporating some of the foods I talked about!

  • 1.5 cup mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa nibs
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 cup of ice

Overall, diet and lifestyle modifications are building blocks to prevent heart disease. Stay active and consume as many of the superfoods mentioned above for your heart. Keep the salt low and exercise high. Make sure to consume your antioxidants, omega-3’s and fibre to reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol and ultimately reduce your risk of heart disease!