How healthy is your heart, really?
You get in your daily steps, clip into spin class each week, and get in your HIIT sessions (okay – one session on the day you don't hit snooze). But have you really looked at what foods you are eating?
Here, we break down the types of heart-healthy nutrients, and how you can incorporate them into your diet right away.
1. Omega-3 Rich Food
In case you weren't aware, fats are actually GOOD for you (well, the right kind of fats). They can help to reduce inflammation in your arteries that increases risk of plaque build-up.
Today, we eat a lot of foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids (think fried foods, processed foods). This means our ratio of Omega-6 : Omega-3 fatty acids is off balance, and increases our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases associated with fat consumption.
Here are a few ways to increase the amount of Omega-3's in your diet:
- Cold-water fish (this includes salmon, mackerel and sardines)
- Flax seeds
- Nuts and seeds
Magnesium is regularly used to help with stress levels and muscle relaxation. In case you didn't know, your heart is just one big ole' muscle, so it also relies on magnesium to function properly.
Bonus: It is also essential to help our bodies properly absorb calcium. When there is too much calcium in our bodies, you might see an increase in muscle contractions.
Where can you find magnesium?
- Dark, leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard
- Dark chocolate (win!)
- Pumpkin seeds
Fiber plays two roles here.
- Insoluble fiber helps to take the "bad things" out of your body – the toxins, the unneeded food particles, the "bad cholesterol," etc.
- Soluble fiber slows down digestion, leaving you feeling fuller, longer. This means you're less likely to snack on those not-so-good for you treats when you hit your 3pm slump.
Here are a few places you can find fibre:
- Ground flax seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Most fruit skins
- Vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables)
- Whole grains like quinoa and barley
4. B-Vitamin Rich Food
Basically, you should be taking a Vitamin B complex for your overall health (this includes vitamin B6, folic acid, B12, and niacin).
Together, these vitamins all help to balance amino acids, produce neurotransmitters, and metabolize fats and proteins.
When your body is metabolizing food efficiently and using the nutrients you are giving it properly, the less likely it is that you will deal with cardiovascular issues.
Where are some areas that you can find B Vitamins?
- A quality B Complex supplement
- Animal proteins like (ideally chicken, fish, and eggs)
- Whole grains including gluten-free oats, quinoa, or barley
Along with what you should be consuming, there are a few things that shouldn't make the plate:
- Poor-quality fats (most deep-fried foods, chips, shelf-stable salad dressings)
- Processed foods (mostly everything in the aisles of the grocery store, and the frozen dinners section)
- A lot of red meats, and fatty pork