Foods To Prevent or Help Heal Heart Disease

Foods To Eat To Prevent Heart Disease

The  previous post on foods that help cause heart disease descibed what not to eat.  This post will tell you what you can eat that will help prevent, and maybe help heal, heart disease;

Choosing a Heart Healthy Diet:

Reduce the Glycemic Load:

Low-Glycemic MealReducing processed carbohydrates in your diet, or eliminating them all together, and replacing them with  proteins, vegetables, and low-sugar fruits, can dramatically redcuce the high-glycemic carbohydrates in your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Also, combining high-glycemic foods in a meal with low glycemic foods (eg white rice with fresh vegetables, or with proteins or fat) will  make the food enter the blood-stream at a lower rate, thus lowering the overall glycemic response.

Other things that lower the glycemic response of a food include shorter cooking time, acid foods such as pickles and sourdough bread (the more acidic the food the  lower the glycemic response),  seeds and beans that hav e a protective fibrous coating, and foods containing soluble fibre (apples, citrus fruits, oatmeal and oat bran, dried peas and beans and other vegetables.)

Foods with a low glycemic load can raise the HDL cholesterol level, and decrease the inflammatory response, which can also raise HDL.

Include These Foods:

Wild Salmon:

Unlike non-organic  meat, or farmed salmon, wild salmon has no hormones, steroids or antibiotics, and is high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats.

Eat about 4 ounces of wild salmon at least twice a week.

Heart-Healthy BerriesBerries:

Berries contain anthocyanins, plant compounds that lower inflammation. They are also low in sugar and are natural antioxidants. Blueberries help prevent the deposits of plaque in the arteries, and prevent some of the damage caused by oxidized cholesterol. Raspberries and strawberries also do this.

Eat berries three or more times a week; include bluberries at least once..


Cherries contain anthocyanins which lower inflammation and pain, and which are thought to help lower heart attacks and stroke risk.

Eat cherries two or more times a week.

Grass Fed Beef:

Unlike factory farmed beef, which is loaded with antibiotics, steroids and hormones, and is very high in  Omega-6 fats, pastured beef is organically raised, has a better Omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and has no hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.  So if you eat beef, make sure it is grass-fed.

Vegetables and Fruit:

Several health studies have shown that the higher the daily consumption of vegetables and fruits, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. For example, those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetables intake ( fewer than one serving daily) were 30% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those consuming eight or more servings a day.

The most effective vegetables in lowering heart attack or stroke are green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are also particularly protective.  Aim for five to nine half-cup servings of vegetables and fruit a day.


Eating nuts several times a week was shown in five major health studies to lower the risk of heart disease by 30 to 50 percent.  The constituents of nuts are thought to protect the inner lining of the heart arteries so that they become more pliable and so less susceptible to atherogenesis.   Nuts also contain antioxidents called phytonutrients, bioactive chemicals found in plants, which are linked to prevention of heart disease.

Worried that you may gain weight from eating nuts?  In the Nurses’ Health Study, nut consumption was inversely related to weight gain.

Eat an ounce of nuts five times a week.


Beans offer several advantages where heart disease is concenerned.  They contain a lot of fibre, and high-fibre intake is related to lower rates of heart disease – and many other diseases as well.  Ideally we should get twenty-five to thirty-eight grams of fibre a day, but the average American only gets a gram of fibre daily; if that is the average, obviously some people don’t get any fibre in their daily diet!

Beans also lower the risk of heart attack – one study showed a thirty-eight percent lower heart attack rate in those eating beans once a day.  Eatung beans and legumes at least four times a day has been shown to lower heart disease by 22 percent compared to people eating beans and legumes less than once a week.

Beans also contain antioxidants, and in this regard some beans are more powerful than others.  Small red beans have the highest antioxidant capacity, followed by red kidney beans and pinto-beans.

Many beans also contain a lot of folate, especislly adzuki beans, lentils, black-eyed peas and pinto beans.  Folate helps bring down homocysteine, an inflammatory compound responsible for heart disease.  It is better to get folate from the diet than from supplementation with folic acid, a synthetic version of folate.   The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening trial linked folic acid intake with a 20% to 32% increased risk of breast cancer in women consuming more than 400 micrograms a day of supplemental folic acid.  Besides beans, other foods high in folate are liver and brewers yeast.

Eat one serving (half to one  cup) of cooked beans or lentils four times a week.


Garlic has antihypertensive, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiviral properties,  and can lower triglycerides and  blood fats, and prevent clot-formation.  Allacin, an active ingredient in garlic helps prevent the blood platelets from sticking together, and so lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In order to provide these health-benefits, garlic must be prepared in a certain way.  The active ingredient resposnible for the health benefits is allacin, a compound created when the raw garlic is crushed or finely chopped. Because allacin starts degrading immdiately after it is formed (and is destroyed by microwaving) the crushed/chopped garlic must be used and eaten almost immediately.  It can be added to cooked food, or added in the last few minutes of sauteing.

Use garlic frequently.

Olive Oil:

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailOlive oil, a monounsaturated fat frequently used in the Mediterranean area, contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols and powerful antioxidants.  The traditional Mediterranean diet (which contains high amounts of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, red wine and olive oi) has been shown to reduce in mortality in people  with heart disease, and to reduce the need for blood pressure medication.

Use extra-virgin olive oil, which is made without the use of heat, hot water or solvents and is left unfiltered.  Most olive oil in grocery stores is highly processed and refined, and has no benefit in heart health.  Always buy oil in dark green bottles, because light degrades oil. Olive oil, even extra-virgin oil, should not be subjected to high heat.

Use only extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressings,  stir- fries, and sautes.


Turmeric, a spice found in curry, has extremely high anti-inflammatory properties and also has anticancer activity.  The active ingredient is curcumin, which also is a powerful antioxidant is and so helsp prevent the oxidization of LDL.

Eat turmeric often.  It goes well on eggs, meats, fish, and poultry.

Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate contains flavenols which can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.  One study found that high levels of chocolate consumption are associated with a one third reduction in developing heart disease and stroke.  Another study of 470 elderly man, found that those who ate the most cocoa had half the risk of heart disease compared to men who ate the least.

In order to get these results you must eat chocolate with a cocoa level of at least 60%. Only dark chocolate will do since the others have very few flavenols.

Eat one or two squares of dark chocolate four to six days a week.

Pomegranate juice:

A number of studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of pure pomegranate juice on cardiovascular health. One study showed a 30% reduction in  arterial plaque in people drinking pomegranate juice.  This juice can also inhibit the oxidization of LDL-cholesterol.

Drink four to six ounces of pure pomegranate juice a day.

Red Wine:

Red wine lowers heart disease in a number of ways.  It increases HDL cholesterol, inhibits the oxidization of LDL-cholesterol and contains a a powerful  antioxidant called Reservatrol. Anti-oxidants help maintain health by reducing oxidative stress, which can lead to disease.

Men should drink no more than two glasses , and women no more than one glass, of red wine about three to four times a week.

Green Tea:

Green tea lowers both cholesterol and fibrinogen, a substance in the body that can cause clots and strokes. A study from Japan, reported in the journal Circulation , concluded that the more green tea patients consume, the less likely they are to have coronary artery disease.  Green tea also has anticancer activity and has many protective plant-based chemicals known as polyphenols.

Black tea  is also useful in preventing stroke or heart attacks.

Drink at least one cup of green tea a day.

If you already have heart-disease, this diet, combined with regular exercise, can prevent it from getting worse, and may reverse it.  According to Dr Crandall, a US-based cardiologist, a mainly, or completely,  plant-based diet  plus regular exercise (at least four days a week)  can reverse heart disease.

Information from this post was taken from from the book The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden, and Stephen Sinatra

Photocredits: Olive Oil foodistablog   Berries VanCityAllie


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