Making your diet work for you and your heart
As we’ve discussed in recent posts, blood pressure and heart health can be affected by multiple different factors – from sleep to mood, genetics to exercise. The right diet and nutrition are also crucial in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Not only can an unhealthy diet be detrimental to heart health, it has also been scientifically proven that certain foods can positively improve blood pressure. In this post we’ll look at three food groups with proven health benefits to help you feel empowered to make the right choices when fueling your body.
The power of magnesium
Magnesium is vital for the heart muscles to function correctly. In fact, research conducted by the University of Hertfordshire has shown that a diet low in magnesium can increase the risk of hypertension. Make sure your magnesium stores are up to scratch by including foods such as quinoa, seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Omega 3: the healthy fatty acids
When you hear the word ‘fat’ you may not immediately associate it with a healthy heart. However, the right kinds of fats are absolutely essential for the brain and body to function correctly. Omega 3 not only aids communication between brain cells but it also helps blood flow and reduces inflammation. Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of processed and fast food most of us are getting plenty of omega-6 in our diets – found in vegetable oils and meat – when we actually need omega-3.
To get the right kinds of fatty acids into your body, fish is your friend! Mackerel, Salmon and Cod Liver Oil are all great sources, along with certain types of seeds such as chia seeds and flaxseeds. If you’re not a fish fan, egg yolks and avocado are a good alternative too.
Dairy with a difference
We’ve talked a lot about savoury options but for those with a sweet tooth, try incorporating yoghurt in your diet. New research has shown that natural yoghurt can lower blood pressure, so why not whip up a bowl of yoghurt topped with berries for a healthy heart treat! Blueberries are the ultimate superfood containing folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium which help to support heart health. If you can’t get hold of bluberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries and acai berries are also rich in nutrients such as vitamin C and fibre. Rasperries are another great substitute, containing polyphenols which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
By making some small changes to your diet and incorporating these food groups into your daily life, you could see some dramatic differences to your mood, energy levels and ultimately your long term heart health. For more food inspiration, check out these delicious healthy snacks that are easy to prepare.