Aside from being the most crucial organ in the human body, the heart is also the most vital muscle we have. Similar to skeletal muscles, the heart is trainable; yet, so few bodybuilders and gym-goers alike seem to care about their cardiovascular function. Looking ripped and muscular is great and all, but an unhealthy internal environment can quickly outweigh the advantages of looking a particular way.
Clinical evidence suggests there is a strong connection between excessive oxidative stress and cardiac arrest. Foods that are plentiful in micronutrients and antioxidants - like grape seed extract - are essential for decreasing cellular oxidative stress, which then mitigates myocardial damage and reduces the probability of your heart failing.
With that in mind, read on as we take a look at seven nutritious foods for protecting your heart and enhancing longevity.
Lycopene, an antioxidant abundant in tomatoes, works through several mechanisms in humans to decrease risks of cardiovascular ailments. Apart from being a powerful antioxidant, lycopene has actually been revealed to hinder the activity of an enzyme included in cholesterol synthesis, consequently lowering LDL ("bad" cholesterol) in the body. Cardiologists typically advise consuming 10,000 mcg of lycopene daily, which is the amount found in a mere four ounces of tomato juice.
Furthermore, longitudinal research evidence suggests that diets rich in tomatoes can reduce the risk of chronic illness and various types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Studies thus far have focused heavily on the beneficial effects of a carotenoid in tomatoes called lycopene; However, recent findings suggest a bioactive ketosamine in processed tomatoes known as FruHis (short for fructose-histidine) works in tandem with lycopene to decrease the risk of prostate cancer in animals. Quite simply, FruHis is a promising cancer-preventing agent with antioxidant properties that most anyone may benefit from.
On a per-gram basis, berries (specifically blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) comprise the richest source of polyphenol antioxidants in nature. Moreover, clinical findings suggest that consumption of the unique polyphenols found in berries is linked with decreased inflammation and improved intercellular signaling, which reduces heart tissue breakdown.
The avocado is one of nature's richest sources of monounsaturated fatty acids. Unfortunately, this has the tendency to terrify the general public, as they presume all the fat content in avocados is unhealthy. In reality, the fats in avocados have actually been found to decrease LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and enhance blood lipid profiles.
The old adage," An apple a day keeps the doctor away," actually has some validity to it. Evidence suggests that those who consume apples regularly have a lower risk of death from both CVD and cardiac arrest.
Apples contain a variety of polyphenol substances, in addition to a particular flavonoid called quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to reduce inflammation, risk of pulmonary embolism, and blood pressure. In other words, apples contain plenty of heart-protecting nutrients and are a simple snack for enhancing longevity.
Freshwater fish are nature's densest source of two essential omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) - eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Extant literature shows that these omega-3 fats are key for decreasing LDL cholesterol as well as helping maintain healthy blood lipid profiles (two vital biomarkers when assessing cardiovascular function).
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends ingesting approximately two to four grams of EPA and DHA combined, daily, for healthy cardiovascular function; this is the EFA content found in roughly three ounces of fatty freshwater fish (e.g. tuna, mackerel, salmon, etc.).
# 6 - Spinach
Spinach (and many green veggies alike), are dense sources of water-soluble micronutrients (especially B vitamins).
Studies suggest that vitamins B6, B9, and B12 (which are abundant in spinach) are imperative for regulating homocysteine levels in your body. Homocysteine is an amino acid your body makes and is readily converted to cysteine (with assistance from those B vitamins). Naturally, when vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are lacking in your diet, homocysteine levels rise; this can cause inflammation to increase, especially in your vascular tissues, and increase risk of CVD.
Brazil nuts are nature’s richest source of the mineral selenium, packing upwards of 750% the recommended daily intake per serving. A recent meta-analysis suggests that people with reduced plasma concentrations of selenium are at higher risk of CVD. Selenium works by binding to specific proteins in humans - creating selenoproteins - that go on to reduce platelet aggregation, oxidative mutation of lipids, and inflammation. Even a few Brazil nuts per day can go a long way for promoting heart health.
Keep in mind that this is not an extensive list of heart-healthy foods, but these seven are sure to pack a nutrient-dense punch in your diet. Regardless of what your diet looks like, you also stand to benefit from the unique antioxidants found in MPA CardioSolve™ and MPA HeartSolve™.
Remember, no matter how “fit” your body looks on the outside, none of it really matters without healthy cardiovascular function. There's bounties of evidence that people who combine a healthy diet with daily exercise have lower resting heart rates, lower blood pressure, and healthier blood lipid values than those who are sedentary. In short, exercise plays a key role in heart health too, so don't skimp on your training.