Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Let’s talk about heart health. Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is an important health issue facing many Americans. Here is how the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association define hypertension:
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2017 – 2018 shows an increase in hypertension with age:
18-39 years old – 22.4%
40-59 years old – 54.5%
60 years old + - 74.5%
Overall, 45% of US adults had high blood pressure in 2017 – 2018, which is almost
1 in 2 adults.
More men (51%) than women (39.7%) have high blood pressure, and more non-Hispanic black (57.1%) adults have high blood pressure compared to non-Hispanic whites (43.6%) or Hispanic (43.7%) adults. Besides taking one or more of the many blood pressure medications available, what can be done to help your heart health?
What functional foods are available that can help keep our blood pressure at an optimal level?
Foods from these categories can help with heart health:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines & Herring (think SMASH). Omega-3’s are also found in nuts and seeds like: chia seeds, flax seeds (make sure you grind them for better absorption), hemp seeds, and walnuts.
Vitamin D: Foods that contain vitamin D include mushrooms, eggs, and more fish (salmon, herring, tuna, and cod liver oil).
Magnesium: Magnesium is found in pumpkin and other squash seeds, nuts like Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts, grains like quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat, okra, and brewer’s yeast.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is found in broccoli, cabbage, turnip greens, spinach, asparagus, butter, oats, green beans, and eggs.
Potassium: Potatoes, legumes, leafy greens, bananas, and avocados are good sources of potassium.
Co-enzyme Q10: Co-Q10 is found in fatty fish (anchovies, mackerel, salmon and sardines), brassicas (broccoli and cauliflower), pork, spinach, and legumes.
Folate: Folate is found in legumes, almonds, asparagus, eggs, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and brassicas (broccoli and brussels sprouts).
Nitrates/Nitric Oxide: Nitrates and nitric oxide increase blood flow, relax blood vessels, decrease blood pressure, decrease plaque formation, and are anti-inflammatory. Foods that are a good source of nitrates include arugula, cabbage, garlic, beets, and pomegranate.
Pomegranate is especially important for heart health and has been shown to reduce blood pressure, plaques, and blood vessel wall thickness.
Spices: Some spices and seasonings that are heart healthy include garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
So, incorporating some of these foods into your daily diet can help to protect your heart and possibly lower your blood pressure. Remember to eat your rainbow of vegetables and take care of your gut health.