Beat back cardiac concerns with 4 pantry staples
Your heart beats around 100,000 times a day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood through your circulatory system. That’s a lot of hard work — without a single break — to keep you up and running. So why not return the favor by lowering your risk of heart disease?
You probably know your diet plays a major role in determining the health of your ticker. Here’s the science behind four foods that help ward off the leading causes of heart disease. And the best part? They’re probably already in your kitchen.
1. Take time for tea and get cleaner arteries.
Research suggests that drinking almost 4 cups of black tea a day over four weeks may boost blood flow and improve artery function in people with heart disease.
Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaques within the walls of the arteries, occurs when the endothelial cells — the ones that line the interior surface of your blood vessels — stop working properly. Black tea improves how well those cells do their job, which may reverse problems that could lead to clogged arteries.
So how did black tea do it? The researchers weren’t 100% sure, but say it could be linked to black tea’s powerful antioxidants — substances that fight off harmful rogue molecules looking to damage your cells.
2. Nosh on nuts to balance your cholesterol.
Walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. Just pick your favorite. Spanish scientists found that adding a daily handful of these nuts to the fruit- and vegetable- rich Mediterranean diet works better than adding more olive oil in lowering your chances of metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors that increase your likelihood of heart disease.
All it took was 1/4 cup of mixed nuts a day over one year for people to see improvements in their cholesterol. The researchers say the results are due to the large amounts of unsaturated fats in nuts.
3. Sweeten with honey to battle blood clots.
People have used honey to treat wounds for thousands of years. Science now suggests you can also heal your heart with honey.
Researchers believe honey’s powerful antioxidants help soften arteries and reduce excess clotting. These natural compounds are also linked to lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the bad cholesterol — that forms into sticky plaques and can clog your arteries.
Studies show that darker varieties of honey have the most antioxidants.
4. Grate garlic to keep blood pressure in check.
Experts recently reviewed numerous studies and found evidence that suggests this simple seasoning can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Scientists believe garlic increases your body’s production of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels so that they dilate. This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood and lowers your blood pressure.
Garlic also contains an enzyme thought to block the production of cholesterol. But the little bulb’s mighty powers don’t stop there.
Garlic may also help prevent blood clots by keeping platelets from clumping together. That’s why it could be dangerous to eat it if you’re taking blood thinners. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor before adding garlic to your diet.
- FC&A Staff Writer