Boosting health of five vital body organs
We continue our discussion on the kind of food that we need to eat to keep the heart healthy. Mention will also be made of such things that should be avoided in order to prevent a coronary heart disease.
Also recommended to keep the heart healthy are low fat proteins found in foods like skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt, egg white, cold-water fish such as tuna and salmon. Others are skinless poultry, legumes (kidney and black beans, lentils), soybeans, and tofu and lean meat.
As part of the principles of preventing coronary heart disease you need to take different varieties of the food that you are allowed to take. It ensures that your heart gets all that it needs to stay healthy from different sources and it makes it less boring for you. These are things that you have not been used to eating.
Foods to avoid
To ensure that the heart is healthy, high calorie, high sodium foods like fast foods, processed and refined foods should be avoided. These will include, white flour products such as white bread and cakes, pastries, pasta, white sugar, table salt and white rice. Others are unhealthy fats like saturated, hydrogenated and trans fats such as is in margarine, butter, shortening etc.
Classification of heart healthy nutrients
Now, I will be presenting 10 categories of nutrients that keep the heart healthy if consumed in the proper way. These nutrients are sourced from water, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and fish. The different categories are as follows:
The body should be well hydrated to prevent cholesterol build up in the arteries. As I have often recommended, alkaline water (Lasena Artesian Natural Mineral Water), is the one of choice. Make sure you drink sufficient water daily. By sufficient water daily, I am talking of eight to 10 glasses daily for an otherwise healthy individual.
Antioxidants are elements that are capable of releasing electrons to free radicals in other to stabilize them and prevent them from destroying the heart or any other organ, cell or tissue in the body. Examples of antioxidants that support the health of the heart are vitamins C and E and minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Also, there are plant chemicals like polyphenols.
These are plant sterols that are similar to cholesterol. They act like cholesterol but do not have the same effect as it. They reduce blood cholesterol.
These are plant chemicals that lower Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL) ’bad’ cholesterol, lower the blood pressure and as antioxidants protect blood vessels from free radical damage.
Examples of polyphenols are the flavonoid polyphenols like catechins, flavonones, isoflavones, anthrocyanins, resveratrol etc.
Found in flaxseed, phytoestrogens have a weak oestrogen-like action. They lower the LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. They prevent blood clots and also lower the blood pressure.
Alpha and beta carotenoids, lycopene and lutein are antioxidants that protect the heart.
7. Omega 3 fatty acid
There are two major sources of omega 3 fatty acids. One is from fresh, cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, herring and mackerel. Flaxseed and walnut are the main plant sources of omega 3 fatty acid. They protect against heart disease by preventing plaque build up on the walls of arteries. Other properties of omega 3 are; increasing High Density Lipo-protein (HDL) ‘good’ cholesterol; and reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. They also reduce blood clot formation and lower the blood pressure.
Apart from the antioxidant vitamins, the B complex vitamins prevent artherosclerotic plaque formation and increase blood level of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
Minerals that play a positive role in the health of the heart are potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Found predominantly in vegetables and fruits, fiber help to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and liver. They are of two types: soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber is not absorbable and so function exclusively in the intestines where they bind to bile salts and cholesterol and excrete them out of the body.
A summary of these nutrients shows clearly that what we eat and drink help to ensure a healthy living and give health to our organs and bodies generally. I will like to emphasize that in the case of heart diseases most of the nutrients are targeted towards reducing cholesterol such as the LDL-cholesterol and there are those that increase the HDL-cholesterol. For example, the phytochemicals, phytosterols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens and carotenoids are particularly suited for this.