Can taking care of your heart with a heart healthy diet minimize your risk of cognitive impairment as you age?
A very common – and unwelcome – side effect of heart failure is cognitive decline. According to a study in the Journal of Cardiac Failure (1) nearly half of patients with heart failure (HF) have problems with memory and other aspects of cognitive functioning. This is especially troubling since heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in North America.
More than 2.4 million Canadians have heart disease (2). It is also the second leading cause of death in Canada, claiming more than 48,000 lives per year. Every hour, about 12 Canadian adults age 20 and over with diagnosed heart disease die.
For my friends south of the border, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year (3). That’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for approximately 800,000 deaths in the United States (US), or one out of every three deaths (4). Among Americans, an average of one person dies from CVD every 40 seconds. Coronary heart disease (CHD) accounts for the majority of CVD deaths, followed by stroke and heart failure. More than 90 million Americans carry a diagnosis of CVD. CHD remains the leading cause of death in the US.
Startling, to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be this way if you eat the right heart healthy foods.
In fact, heart disease is one of many illnesses that can be controlled through a heart healthy diet. Enter Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. You know, the clinic that has been rated as one of THE best in the world for cardiology and heart surgery care. He’s also a former Olympian and was awarded a Bronze Star in Vietnam where he served as an Army surgeon. How’s that for street cred? He and his lovely wife, Ann have been enjoying the benefits of plant-based eating for more than 26 years.
Dr. Esselstyn has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from heart disease with a heart healthy diet with a plant-based approach (5). His nutrition-based therapy has been scientifically proven to REVERSE heart disease. Yes, in spite of what you’ve been told, heart disease IS reversible.
His approach also prevents heart disease from manifesting in those who don’t yet have the disease with add lots of heart healthy foods.
Taking care of your heart with a heart healthy diet is right up there with taking care of your brain and minimizes the risk of cognitive impairment as you age.
Here are 5 heart healthy foods to add to your diet today to protect your ticker:
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene a natural plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are a crucial heart healthy food as they help neutralize harmful free radicals which prevents oxidative damage and inflammation. Both of which are known to contribute to heart disease. Additionally low blood levels of lycopene have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke (6).
One review looked at 25 different studies which showed that a high intake of foods rich in lycopene was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke (7).
Berries like blueberries, strawberries and blackberries play a central role in heart health and are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease (8).
One study showed that eating berries as part of a heart healthy diet can reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Participants that drank a beverage made of freeze-dried strawberries for eight weeks decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol by 11% (9).
Berries can be a nutritious addition to your morning smoothie or a delicious mid afternoon or evening snack.
Give this blueberry coconut chia seed parfait a try!
What’s good for your heart is good for your brain!
Discover 10 powerful Vitamins and Minerals that Ignite Your Brain Power in this FREE guide!
3) Dark Chocolate
Not that you need an excuse to eat chocolate but dark chocolate in particular is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help boost heart health. I think this is one of my favourite heart healthy foods on this list!
There are quite a few studies that have associated eating chocolate with a lowered risk of heart disease.
One study showed that participants who ate chocolate at least five times per week had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters (10).
This is not a license to OD on chocolate because it can be high in sugar and calories, which can cancel out many of its health-promoting properties.
For maximum heart benefits enjoy high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%, and eat in moderation o make the most of its heart-healthy benefits.
Walnuts are great for both brain and heart health. According to one study, eating walnuts may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 16%, lower diastolic blood pressure by 2–3 mm Hg and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation (11).
Additionally, some studies have also found that regularly eating nuts such as walnuts as part of a heart healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease (12).
Beets increase the blood flow throughout our body and to the heart and nitric oxide is incredibly important to the heart. Dark leafy greens also provide these benefits. Beets are also super rich in vitamins A, B1, B6, C and minerals like iron, calcium, copper, and magnesium.
Adding more plant foods to your diet overall is a great strategy to lower blood pressure naturally. Most plant foods are high in beneficial health healthy ingredients such as potassium and Vitamin B6.
Taking care of your heart is right up there with taking care of your brain and minimizes the risk of cognitive impairment as you age.
Discover some of the top foods to add to your heart healthy diet that will also ignite Your Brain Power in this FREE guide (+ the top food sources) based on proven scientific research! Click here or below!