Healing Kitchen

Heart Disease Prevention
Consuming a low animal fat, plant-based diet abundant in unprocessed whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is a powerful weapon against heart disease, according to numerous studies. Traditional heart healthy diets are low in salt and saturated fat, yet high in cardioprotective foods and nutrients including fiber, flaxseed, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fats, soy, and antioxidants, such as lycopene, flavonoids, and vitamins C and E. Eating foods rich in monounsaturated fat in place of artery-clogging saturated fat has been shown to promote heart health as well. Saturated fat is commonly found in animal products and processed foods, and heart friendly monounsaturated fat is present in avocados, canola and olive oils, nuts, and fatty fish including mackerel, salmon and tuna.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

Experts believe that all carotenoids-but especially alpha-carotene, lycopene, and beta-carotene-help to prevent heart disease and heart attack by inhibiting the formation of harmful LDL cholesterol. A study of 1,300 older people found that those who ate the most foods rich in carotenoids were half as likely to develop heart disease, and 75% as likely to have a heart attack, as those who ate the least amount of carotenoids; the results included people who smoked and had high cholesterol levels. In a major European study, men who ate a lot of lycopene-rich food were 50% less likely to have a heart attack than men who consumed little lycopene. Nonsmokers experienced the most benefit.
Leading Food Sources of carotenoids: Carrots, Spinach, Sweet potatoes, Apricots, Peppers, sweet, Acorn squash, Collard greens, Corn, fresh

fiber, soluble
Numerous studies link high fiber diets with a reduced risk of heart attack. In particular, soluble fiber helps to lower levels of artery-clogging cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of fiber, soluble: Carrots, Peas, fresh, Barley, Beans, dried, Oats, Apples

Evidence is accumulating that flavonoid-rich foods lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by quenching harmful free radicals that contribute to atherosclerosis.
Leading Food Sources of flavonoids: Broccoli, Carrots, Blueberries, Grapefruit, white, Lemons, Pomegranates, Limes, Chocolate, Soybeans, Oranges, Apples, Tomatoes, Onions

flaxseed oil
Several studies indicate that flaxseed oil, as well as ground flaxseeds, can lower cholesterol, thereby significantly reducing the risk of heart disease. Consuming flaxseed oil may also protect against angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure. In addition, a five-year study done recently at Boston's Simmons College found that flaxseed oil may be useful in preventing a second heart attack.
Leading Food Sources of flaxseed oil: Oil, flaxseed

folic acid
This indispensable B vitamin (also known as folate) teams up with vitamins B6 and B12 to lower levels of homocysteine, a substance linked to heart disease.
Leading Food Sources of folic acid: Asparagus, Avocados, Spinach, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Turkey, Cabbage, Savoy, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Beets

Research suggests that this antioxidant carotenoid helps to prevent the harmful build up of cholesterol on artery walls. A large study of over a thousand middle aged men from ten European countries found that participants who consumed the most lycopene in their diets cut their risk of heart attack by 50%.
Leading Food Sources of lycopene: Tomatoes, Guava, Grapefruit, pink

Without adequate levels of magnesium, your heart will suffer: The mineral helps coordinate the activity of the heart muscle as well as the functioning of the nerves that initiate the heartbeat. It also helps keep coronary arteries from spasming, an action that can cause the intense chest pain known as angina.
Leading Food Sources of magnesium: Spinach, Quinoa, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Almonds, Barley, Avocados

omega-3 fatty acids
Studies suggest that omega-3 fats may protect against heart disease by preventing erratic heart rhythms, inhibiting blood clots, and reducing levels of unhealthy triglycerides in the blood.
Leading Food Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, Tuna, Trout

soy isoflavones
Heart-healthy actions have been attributed to isoflavone-rich soy. In 1999 the Food and Drug Administration declared that soy foods can be billed as products that reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering harmful cholesterol. Specifically, soy products have been shown to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and significantly increase HDL ("good") cholesterol. Soy products also appear to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that can eventually clog arteries.
Leading Food Sources of soy isoflavones: Soybeans, Tofu, Soy products

vitamin C
Vitamin C can increase resistance to heart disease by improving cholesterol levels, fending off damaging free radicals and bolstering blood vessels. Several studies have linked the presence of low levels of vitamin C to heart attacks in certain cases. Research indicates that vitamin C helps protect LDL ("bad") cholesterol from oxidation, thus preventing plaque buildup in coronary arteries. Vitamin C may also boost blood levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol; studies are ongoing to provide definitive evidence of this action.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Kiwi fruit, Oranges, Tangerines & other mandarins, Potatoes, Peppers, bell, red, Strawberries

vitamin E
Several population studies link vitamin E with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease. The antioxidant actions of this vitamin are thought to protect the cholesterol in our blood from oxidative damage that contributes to heart disease.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin E: Broccoli, Avocados, Mangoes, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Peanuts, Almonds

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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