Have you heard of the saying “you are what you eat?”
In the case of heart disease, this is a very accurate statement indeed! The reason that this disease is virtually at epidemic proportions in most countries is because diets have remarkably changed over the last two decades.
When I refer to heart disease, I really am describing a condition known as vascular disease. In this condition, the arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to various areas of the body, are blocked by plaques which impede blood flow to the heart muscle and brain. This can cause a heart attack or stroke. The number one cause for this is vascular inflammation, attributed to insulin resistance—and your diet greatly influences this process.
Here are some healthy foods that can lower inflammation and help prevent heart disease.
Whole grain foods like oatmeal, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa can lower the risk of heart disease because they are low on the glycemic scale. Foods that are lower on the glycemic scale raise blood sugar very slowly and this causes very little insulin secretion.
When your blood sugar remains constantly lower, so does the level of insulin your pancreas secretes after a meal. This results in a much lower risk of developing dangerous inflammation which damages your arteries causing plaques.
Consuming one to two servings of w
hole grain healthy foods daily can help lower the risk of heart disease. Add these foods to your healthy diet.
This great-tasting tuber is one of the nutritional “superfoods” I endorse. Sweet potato is a great source of complex carbohydrates which are also low on the glycemic scale. This food keeps your blood sugar level and insulin secretion at a minimum. The resulting improvement in insulin sensitivity negates the development of dangerous levels of inflammation, decreases fat storage, and encourages fat loss.
Sweet potatoes, essential for a healthy diet, also contain generous amounts of vitamin C and carotenoids which can also protect your arteries from damaging free radicals.
Add one to two servings of sweet potato to your healthy diet every week to prevent heart disease.
I like to think of this food group as the food that most people ignore. It’s a pity because legumes are inexpensive and one of the most nutritionally dense foods available in our diet!
Legumes consist of beans or peas and contain both carbohydrates and protein. They also contain generous amounts of soluble fiber which can keep cholesterol levels under control. The consumption of legumes can also help control blood pressure and supply the body with antioxidants from chemicals called lignans that can also protect our arteries.
The really great thing about legumes is that they are very low on the glycemic scale making this food a prime candidate for keeping blood sugar constantly regulated throughout the day.
I recommend consuming one to two servings of legumes per day for optimum heart health.
A healthy diet can do more than just make you feel good—it can, in fact, help prevent heart disease. Add these healthy foods to your diet for optimal health.
Murray, M., et al., Encyclopedia of Naturopathic Medicine (Prima Publishing, 1998): 251.