Julia FitzGerald (The FitFarms Nutritional Therapist)
Thanks to great leaps in modern surgical procedure and the development of drugs that control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, many people have become complacent about heart health. Despite such treatments, cardiovascular disease remains one of the country’s biggest killers.
Research suggests that many factors can promote heart health, including eating a varied, nutrient?rich diet that provides fibre and healthy fats but is low in salt, red meat and unhealthy fats (both saturated and hydrogenated varieties). To keep your heart in shape, make sure you include a few of the following superfoods at mealtimes.
Garlic has been shown to reduce clotting ability and plaque formation (which leads to arthrosclerosis or furring of the arteries). To benefit, you really need to consume one or two cloves a day. Garlic is most potent eaten raw, so try adding it crushed to a freshly made vinaigrette or home-made hummus.
Oily fish has a potent anti?inflammatory effect and may improve cholesterol levels. Two portions are recommended each week. Choose from sardines, pilchards, salmon, trout, anchovies, fresh tuna and particularly mackerel, a cheap and sustainable fish that’s in season throughout the summer.
Red wine contains resveratrol, a plant chemical currently being investigated for its anti-cancer potential as well as its cardio-protective action. One glass with a meal is sufficient.
Other heart-friendly foods include dark chocolate (try Green & Black’s new Dark 85% bar, £1.66 from most supermarkets), as well as olive oil, tea, oats, tomatoes, ginger and turmeric.