Antioxidants to the Rescue: Antioxidants help prevent and repair free radical damage, act as an anti-inflammatory, strengthen blood vessel walls, and inhibit platelet aggregation. Free radicals are also known as strong oxidizers that can damage cells, tissues, and organs in the body over time. Antioxidants come to the rescue by scavenging or quenching free radicals throughout the body.
But, this only works if there are a lot of antioxidant-rich foods in the diet on a daily basis. These scavengers can only come from natural, whole foods, preferably in the raw state. As a first step, you need to include foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. But remember your flavonoids..
The anthocyanidin and proanthocyanidin-rich foods are also essential for good heart health. Here we have blueberries, blackberries, black currants, black raspberries, cherries, red grapes, and red wine. Yes, maybe a glass, now and then.
Moreover, add bioflavonoid-rich foods such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. They reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen blood vessels, and improve circulation. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and mustard greens are also included in this group. What about the good fats?
Big Benefits from Good Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids pack a huge, heart benefit in a small package. They lower LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure, if elevated, raise HDL cholesterol, inhibit excessive platelet aggregation, reduce blood clotting, and act as an anti-inflammatory. The good fats do indeed provide a lot of preventative help.
So, include cold water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring in your diet. Add freshly-ground flax seed, hemp seed oil, and organic, olive oil, which have high levels of omega-3s, omega-6s, and omega-9s, respectively.
Spice up your Life: Turmeric is high in anti-inflammatory curcumin. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which reduces cholesterol and triglycerides. Where does garlic fit in?
In addition, garlic lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and fibrinogen levels and contains allylic sulphides that prevent excessive blood clotting and platelet aggregation. Since many scientists now believe that infection also causes hardening of the arteries and heart disease, the antimicrobial effects of garlic are also beneficial.
As you can see from the above, there are an abundance of natural, whole foods available to protect and nourish your heart. Choose organic foods, especially in the winter and spring from health food stores, if possible, as well as local produce in the summer and fall from food co-ops and farmers’ markets, if nearby.