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HAPPY HEART DAY!



Valentine’s is one day in the year when we remember to nourish our loved one’s heart with lots of kisses and affection.

 

But the other 364 days we should be focusing upon loving ourselves and nourishing our own hearts.  

 

In the last couple of years there’s been a spike in the incidence of strokes, heart attacks and other heart abnormalities (e.g. myocarditis, endocarditis, high blood pressure and arrhythmia / abnormal heart rhythm) in all ages (from 20 yrs upwards) .

 

Professor Fausto Pinto of the World Heart Federation stated that “up to 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes can be prevented”.   Knowing how food, our thoughts and environmental toxins can shape our physiology (deplete us of nutrients and affect our genes /cellular health), I suspect he’s 100% correct.

 

For Valentine's Day I’d like to show you all some love by offering dietary and lifestyle tips to help prevent anyone from suffering from a 'broken heart'.

 

One of the most significant drivers of poor cardiovascular health is a circulatory system filled with fats.  A diet high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fatty acids (and even an excessively high intake of ‘healthy’ unsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids) can lead to the bloodstream becoming congested with cholesterol and triglycerides (as well as raising 'visceral fat'= fat that surrounds our vital organs in the abdominal cavity and along our arteries).  Blood then becomes more viscous, slowing blood flow through arteries and veins (I can see evidence of 'thick blood' when I carry out finger prick blood type tests and have to really massage someone’s finger just to obtain 4 drops of blood).  This can cause the heart to have to pull harder to suck blood up from the liver and then pump harder to force the blood around the body (one cause of high blood pressure).  Cholesterol & triglycerides can also form ‘plaque’ deposits on artery walls, further increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

 

To drill things down to the most basic level – when it comes to good cardiovascular health, you need to think ‘LOW-FAT, HIGH ANTIOXIDANT INTAKE'. Or simply, lower the amount of animal products you eat (high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fatty acids) and increase your plant-food consumption (particularly the RED/PURPLE fruits and veggies rich in phytonutrients, water, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and fibre required for heart function and to aid the removal of toxins that have the potential to infiltrate and damage the cardiovascular system).

 

I’m not claiming everyone should ‘go vegan'. A great place to start is to indulge in a Mediterranean-style diet.  The kind of fare you might enjoy whilst holidaying in Greece, Italy or Spain. An exceptionally pleasurable diet I think, and definitely not a chore:)

 

There are so many actions we could take to make our hearts happy, but as this is a blog (and not a book), here are the most pertinent dietary and lifestyle aspects to consider implementing to keep the old ticker tocking:- 


FOODS TO REDUCE YOUR BLOOD FATS:

·       Consider removing all pork products from your diet (or at least significantly reducing your intake).

·       Reduce your red meat intake (lamb, beef, offal and game) to once or twice per week MAXIMUM

·       Reduce your egg and (cow’s/goat’s/ewe’s/sheep’s) dairy intake

·       Reduce your intake of deep-fried junk food (e.g. burgers & chips or fish in batter and chips)

·       Reduce your intake of high fat processed foods (e.g. cakes, pies, pastries, biscuits and chocolate –

containing eggs, milk, lard, margarine, cream, nuts and/or cocoa butter).

·       Don’t go crazy with the nuts & seeds (i.e. a small handful of nuts or seeds combined in one meal a day

is plenty – such as cashew nuts in a Chicken Thai Green curry; beetroot salad with roasted pecans; or

roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing).

 

FOODS/DRINKS TO INCREASE TO LOWER BLOOD FAT LEVELS & IMPROVE BLOOD-FLOW:

·       SUPER IMPORTANT: Thin your blood by drinking the right fluids! Less dehydrating caffeinated

beverages (black/green/white tea, matcha & coffee) and LOTS more hydrating lemon or lime water,

100% coconut water, fresh juices, fresh smoothies and soups. (I’d estimate around 95% of clients I test

are chronically dehydrated / have a low total body water % content)

·       Opt for lower-fat animal products such as turkey, chicken (without the skin), oily fish, white fish &

shellfish

·       One meal a day, swap out animal protein and substitute it with ‘complete’ plant-proteins such as lentils,

beans, green peas, avocado, hummus, hemp seeds, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, chia seeds or seaweed

(e.g. avocado & cucumber sushi)

·       Considering swapping out butter for olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, walnut oil or groundnut oil

·       Use herbs (parsley, coriander, chives, etc.), spices (turmeric, cumin, ginger, etc.) and foods containing

NATURAL salt (olives, celery, spinach) to flavour your foods (instead of sodium chloride/sea salt)

·       Aim to consume AT LEAST FIVE servings of antioxidant-rich plant foods EVERY DAY. 


As I mentioned above, the RED/PURPLE foods (to help you remember, just think of fruits and veggies the colour of blood), provide high levels of nutrients and antioxidants to optimise cardiovascular system health.  Dark green vegetables are also abundant in electrolytes to optimise electrical signalling within the heart.  Here’s a list of the top 10 most beneficial 'heart-happy' foods (try to include at least one in your daily diet):-

o    ALL VARIETIES OF BERRIES

o    CHERRIES

o    POMEGRANATES

o    BEETROOT

o    RADISHES

o    TOMATOES

o    RED ONIONS & GARLIC

o    RED CABBAGE

o    DARK GREEN VEGETABLES – ASPARAGUS, BROCCOLI, WATERCRESS, ROCKET, KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, GREEN CABBAGE, BOK CHOY, SWISS CHARD

o    AVOCADO

 

IF YOU’RE REALLY UP FOR SHOWING YOURSELF SOME LOVE, HERE'S A COUPLE OF ADDITIONAL 'HEART-HEALING' TIPS:

·       Lower your stress levels by giving someone you love HUGE hugs at any given opportunity to illicit

outpourings of the love hormone 'oxytocin' (& switch off adrenaline and cortisol secretions).

·       Buy yourself a Valentines gift - book in for an OLIGOSCAN TEST to check if you're deficient in any of the

electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium) required to regulate your heart beat or antioxidants

needed for healthy arteries and veins.

 

E-mail me @ hannahbrownnutrition@gmail.com or call: 07789 936344 to book an appointment.

 

WARNING: If you're taking any type of pharmaceutical drug, please consult with your doctor before consuming the specific recommended foods to determine whether any of them are contraindicated with your specific medication (e.g. pomegranate juice should be avoided with statins and calcium channel blockers)



References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822653/ (vitamin & minerals & heart health)

 


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