Heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Doctor taking blood pressure

Foods That Help Regulate Blood Pressure

Fitness guru Jack Lalanne once said, “High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating. Would you get your dog up in the morning of a cup of coffee and a donut? Probably millions of Americans got up this morning with a cup of coffee and a donut. No wonder they are sick and fouled up.” Lalanne really knew a thing or two about keeping healthy and regulating high blood pressure. The link between diet and high blood pressure is very real. If you’re dealing with hypertension, you may know that the DASH diet, which consists of foods low in sodium and high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, is recommended to normalize and prevent high blood pressure, but there are also some specific foods have a healthy effect.

Dairy
Studies published in the Journal of Human Hypertension reported that Australian researchers found a connection between reduced risk of high blood pressure and low fat dairy foods with low fat yogurt and milk as the strongest players in the field. Although calcium content may contribute, it is more likely that other components, such as peptides, real eased in the digestion process, are responsible. It is uncertain why high fat dairy does not have the same effect, but the saturated fat may have something to do with it, or it is possible that low fat dairy eaters simply have a healthier lifestyle overall.

Flaxseed
A 2013 study published in the journal “Hypertension” found that flaxseed was among a variety of foods capable of reducing both diastolic (relaxation of the heart) and systolic (contraction of the heart) blood pressure. Why the flaxseed causes the blood pressure reduction is unclear, but it may be due to food’s levels of the compounds alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides. and fiber.

Olive Oil
A 2012 study which ran in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that young women with slightly high blood pressure levels might benefit from olive oil. Spanish researchers found a connection between the polyphenol rich oil and drops in diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Woman eating chocolate

Chocolate
If you must consume those breakfast donuts, at least try to make sure it is of the devil’s food variety. A 2010 BMC meta-analysis showed that dark chocolate and cocoa products with flavanols were linked to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure among hypertension patients. Other research shows that the polyphenols in chocolate can help to form nitric oxide which widens blood pressure and eases blood flow.

Beets
Have you got the beets? According to a 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal, Australian researchers found that healthy men and women who drank beet juice plus apple juice had lower systolic blood pressure that those who drank plain apple juice. The reason? Beets contain nitrates, which naturally ease blood pressure.

Pistachios
A 2013 “Hypertension” journals study found that participants who ate one serving of pistachios for four weeks saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure. However, those who ate 2 servings did not see as much of a reduction. The reason for the difference in results was not clear, but it may be due to an increase in the amount of blood pumped from the heart caused by the higher nut dosage.

So, there’s the lineup. We hope that you found something on the list that gets your blood unpumping. Let us know what works for your hypertension and if any do the above did the trick, we love to hear from you.

Stressed pregnant woman

Reducing High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

One fairly common and understandable concern for expecting parents is high blood pressure. The reason it can be a concern is twofold: increased chance of hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy, and the risk of hypertension causing complications for pregnancy. Here, we’ll go ahead and examine and address this concern from both angles, and discuss what can cause hypertension during pregnancy, how to deal with it, and when it’s harmless and when it’s a concern.

Types of Hypertension During Pregnancy
There are actually several different categories of hypertension during pregnancy; three, to be precise. Let’s go over them.

Gestational hypertension occurs when the pregnant person develops high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are no signs of organ damage such as excess protein in the urine. Gestational hypertension can eventually become preeclampsia, but it is fairly rare. If you develop gestational hypertension, make sure you and your doctor keep an eye on it, but you and your baby will probably be fine.

Chronic hypertension typically refers to high blood pressure that existed independent of pregnancy, but also refers to high blood pressure that occurs anytime before 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed. It can be difficult to determine for sure when it began, so make sure you’re seeing a doctor regularly and keeping an eye on your blood pressure.

Preeclampsia is the most concerning type of hypertension during pregnancy and the one that requires the most care and oversight. Preeclampsia is a condition that sometimes develops from chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension, and is characterized by not only high blood pressure, but signs of damage or another organ system, including but not limited to protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can lead to serious or even fatal complications for both the baby and the pregnant parent if left untreated, but it is treatable, so do not panic if you develop preeclampsia, just work closely with a doctor to control the condition.

What Problems Can Hypertension Cause in Pregnancy?
High blood pressure—specifically, or at least mostly, preeclampsia—during pregnancy can decrease blood flow to the placenta, limiting the nutrients and oxygen your baby receives, slowing growth and potentially causing preterm birth, low birth weight, and breathing problems for your baby. Placental abruption—the placenta separating from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery—is also a concern, which is potentially life-threatening to both you and your baby. Preeclampsia can also predispose you to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in the future.

What Can I Do About it?
First and foremost—and we cannot emphasize this enough—work with a doctor, follow their advice to the letter, and always check in with them before you try any self-treatment of any kind, to make sure it’s safe. Be thorough and honest with your doctor, reporting any and all symptoms, and remember that preeclampsia can develop with no symptoms, even without protein in the urine, in rare circumstances, so monitor your blood pressure closely; check it at least once a week and keep your doctor updated. Also, watch for other symptoms like severe headaches, vision changes, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, decrease in urine output, lower platelet count, weakened liver, or shortness of breath. Finally, exercise regularly (under your doctor’s guidance), take everything as prescribed, avoid sodium, eat lots of leafy greens and fruits, and avoid smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.