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!

A running lady being trailed by a man

Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise and Wine

What do wine and exercise have in common? Well, on the surface, not much. Wine is associated with relaxation, while exercise is associated with activity. But studies have emerged that both can be beneficial to cardiovascular health, especially when combined. Find out how this combination can be beneficial to your heart health.

The benefits of wine and exercise were discovered in a study ran by The European Society of Cardiology. Lead researcher Milos Taborsky, head of cardiology at the Palacky University Hospital in the Czech Republic says, “We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results.”

The study looked at people who consumed alcohol moderately at least 5 days a week. The researchers then separated the people into those that only drank and those that drank and exercised. The ones that only drank showed no considerable effect on their blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, or levels of inflammatory markers. However, those who worked out infrequently, such as twice a week, showed a dramatic impact on lowering cholesterol levels, which can result in a lower chance of cardiovascular disease.

resveralife-cardiovascular-benefits-of-exercise-wine-Drinking-Wine

Other studies that champion the combination of wine and exercise come from research done at the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska. These studies showed that ellagic acid, which is found in grapes, drastically slows the growth of existing fat cells and the formation of new ones, boosting metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. But drinking wine alone isn’t enough since the ellagic acid will slow fat growth, but not burn the fat. That’s where the exercise comes in. It allows you to shed some pounds in the first place and a moderate amount of red wine can help you keep it off. Reduced fat will also result in improved cardiovascular health.

Wine and beer can also encourage us to exercise in a beneficial cycle. Researchers have shown that wine and beer release endorphins in our brain that we use as a reward and motivation for working out. When the endorphins from exercising and the ones from drinking are combined, i.e. when we drink a glass of beer or wine shortly after a workout, they create a reaction in our body that our body wants to replicate over and over again. The result is that we subconsciously encourage ourselves to hit the gym the next day in order to replicate that feeling. This is a rare positive addiction that can result in stimulating the heart and blood flow.

Another more inconclusive study shows that a compound found in wine, resveratrol, can improve heart function, physical performance and muscle strength, mimicking exercise in the body and boosting workout performance. The setback in research here shows that it would take so much resveratrol to see the benefit, that humans could never consume that amount of wine and exercise safety. While you can supplement with resveratrol, the real thing is always more effective.

Do you exercise and drink wine? Do you find the combination beneficial? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.