You’ve got a lot of room in your heart for the people you love, the passions you pursue, the little things that make you smile. That heart of yours that goes the extra mile for a good cause, or spontaneously sends your friends and family sweet cards just to let them know how special they are. That heart deserves the best care and attention you can give.
Unfortunately, heart disease affects tens of millions of Americans and is the leading cause of death in the United States. The great news is that, since your diet plays a leading role in influencing blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation, there is a wide variety of foods that can help you optimize your heart health.
Leafy greens are loaded down with Vitamin K, more specifically Vitamin K2 which is a big player when it comes to blood clots. Since the 1950s, Vitamin k deficiencies have been on the rise with the increasing reliance on processed food, which is devoid of Vitamin K.
Vitamin K is associated with inhibiting the calcification of arteries because it activates a certain protein called matrix GLA, a key ingredient in removing calcium in the arteries and blood vessels. This is also something to consider if you take a calcium supplement for your bone density.
Leafy greens like beet greens also contain high amounts of dietary nitrates to help reduce blood pressure. Clinical studies showed a connection between dietary nitrates and a reduction in blood pressure rates in hypertensive patients.
Swiss chard is a major ingredient in our Broth Elixirs which is why it’s our favorite type of leafy green. In addition to Vitamin K and nitrates, it is also high in potassium and magnesium. Potassium is associated with lower systolic blood pressure and magnesium is another helpful calcium blocker for the heart and arteries.
A well-known heart healthy food group is the whole grain family. Whole grains are high in fiber which can help lower bad cholesterol. (Not to mention the digestive benefits of high fiber foods!)
Three servings of whole grains per day - equaling about 90 grams - has proven to significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Three servings a day can also lower systolic blood pressure enough to have a significant impact on reducing your risk of a stroke.
Whole grains that we recommend:
Stress is the enemy of a healthy body. But stress is an inevitable part of life. That’s why berries frequently appear on our list of beneficial foods.
Berries are synonymous with antioxidants in the world of nutrition. This is because they help lower oxidative stress and inflammation, which is very helpful for cultivating a heart healthy life. Additionally, berries can lower bad cholesterol.
Here are some heart-healthy berries we suggest.
The magical fruit that lowers blood level cholesterol and triglycerides. This is because they are a digestion resistant starch, meaning they hang out in your gut for a time before they’re passed. Although more research is needed, studies have shown that resistant starch aids in creating heart healthy balances within your blood as it passes through your entire cardiovascular system.
HEALTHY FATS: AVOCADOS, FATTY FISH & OLIVE OIL
Healthy fats make healthy hearts. Monounsaturated fats are linked to lower cholesterol levels and lower heart disease risk. Additionally, avocados are rich in potassium, which we now know helps lower blood pressure. Extra guac please!
Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and eating fatty fish about three times a week has shown to significantly lower diastolic blood pressure.
Olive oil, like avocados, is high in monounsaturated fats to help boost your cholesterol fighting powers as well as raising the likelihood of warding off heart disease.
NUTS! WALNUTS & ALMONDS, SPECIFICALLY
Walnuts are high in magnesium while almonds are packed with our favorite kind of fats - monounsaturated - and are high in fiber. Both of these tasty treats work hard against heart disease and tackle cholesterol.
Garlic is not only helpful in gut health improvement, but in all the heart healthy ways we’ve learned about so far. Studies show that consuming garlic extract on a daily basis for six months was just as effective at lowering blood pressure as taking a common prescription.
Other studies found that garlic extract can reduce the risk of blood clots and therefore the risk of stroke. However, in order to get the most benefit out of the healing compound in garlic, it’s important to either eat it raw or crush out the juices and let it sit before cooking.
Green tea covers all the heart healthy basses by helping reduce inflammation, protect against cell damage, and help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It is associated with lower cholesterol and, when consumed consistently over at least three month’s time, has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood.
Listen to Your Heart
Always keep an open heart, but don’t open your heart to disease by disregarding your diet. It deserves your attention and protection because it’s what allows you to be present for the most beautiful moments in life. It’s where you carry the most important people. It’s where you hold your most precious memories. Cherish it, care for it, and let what’s inside flow into those who surround you.
From our hearts to yours,
The OWL Fam
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing