A growing body of evidence shows us that inflammation plays a central role in all aspects of cardiovascular disease from early stage initial lesions in the arteries to end-stage complications leading to a heart attack. Inflammation can happen when the immune system is activated to protect the body from harm. In the case of heart disease the immune system recognises oxidative damage within the arteries and wades in with immune cells to engulf the potentially harmful substances. Lesions are formed on the artery walls which narrow the vessels.
It is very important to protect against oxidative damage and reduce the inflammatory response, as this constant low grade inflammation can be very harmful.
Here are some top tips to help protect against heart disease.
1. Add some turmeric to your life
Turmeric contains many wonderful compounds, including curcumin, that have an anti-inflammatory effect by blocking pro-inflammatory enzymes. Turmeric also ameliorates oxidative damage. Other antioxidant-rich foods include berries, artichokes, dark leafy greens, green tea, figs, apples and oily fish.
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2. Magnesium to reduce blood pressure
Magnesium helps to support healthy blood pressure. As high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, adding more magnesium foods and a magnesium supplement would be very beneficial. Magnesium foods include, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, kefir, dark chocolate (at least 85% cacao).
Magnesium supplement support:
3. Increase your protein
Excessive refined carbohydrates and sugar laden foods will cause constant spikes in blood sugar causing the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy and storage. This can cause weight gain, inflammation and disrupt hormones, amongst many other negative effects on the body. Carrying extra weight is a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A great way to balance your blood sugar and reduce your sugar cravings is to eat more protein. Foods like avocado, hemp, chia, flax seed, nuts and seeds, eggs, wild caught fish, biodynamic pasture raised beef, free range chicken and turkey, beans and pulses such as aduki beans, mung beans, lentils and chickpeas. If you’re wanting extra protein try a protein powder such as Sun Warrior or Pulsin.
4. Check your homocysteine levels
Homocysteine is an amino acid that must be kept within a healthy range. Risks associated with high homocysteine include coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke and deep vein thrombosis. Homocysteine can be measured with a simple blood test. Folate, B6 and B12 deficiencies are associated with high homocysteine so ensure you are eating foods that contain these vitamins as part of your healthy balanced diet.
Folate: Dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, cos lettuce, avocados
Vitamin B6: Sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, prunes, avocados, spinach,
Vitamin B12: Beef and beef liver, Mackerel, salmon, sardines, eggs,
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As always, where possible please source your animal produce from local farms where they are grass-fed, pasture raised and free range. Even better try and find a local biodynamic farm.
For more ideas of anti-inflammatory foods see 'Eating an anti-inflammatory diet' and for top tips on increasing your magnesium intake 'Magnesium: Are you getting enough?'