7 Ways to Feed a Healthy Heart

(THE NOURISHED EPICUREAN)  We need to show our heart some love. Yet, (often conflicting) health headlines can leave us confused about the best ways to prevent heart disease.

For example: Do you avoid eating red meat because you believe that it will give you heart disease? Do you wonder why dark chocolate—perhaps a frequent craving—has heart health benefits?  Do you believe that eating “low-fat” is heart smart?  Do you think that you are immune to getting heart disease because you’re only in your 20s or 30s?

First, it’s important to understand the two main drivers of heart disease: inflammation and oxidative damage.

Chronic low level inflammation at the cellular level—known as the “silent killer”—can develop without pain and also lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Oxidative damage occurs when cells have been exposed to oxygen (think apple slices that turn brown because they were exposed to oxygen), leading to the creation of unstable molecules called “free radicals”.  Damage from free radicals causes inflammation, which damages your DNA, cell membranes and tissues. In turn, this chronic inflammation can produce an abundance of free radicals, which then creates more inflammation. A vicious cycle ensues.

What causes inflammation and oxidative damage?  The main offenders are (but are not limited to):

1) Chronic, ongoing stress
2) Smoking
3) A poor, high sugar diet
4) A sedentary lifestyle

Relative youth (being in your 20s or 30s) does not provide immunity from heart disease. The Bogalusa Study, a long-term community study of a bi-racial population in a small Louisiana town, found that causes of adult heart disease actually begin in childhood—as early as age 8.  According to the study, documented anatomic changes occur by 5 to 8 years of age.  Ideally, a heart-healthy lifestyle begins in childhood.

Here’s the great news… Heart disease can largely be prevented, even reversed, through diet and lifestyle changes. Making the following shifts can go a long way to protecting your heart.

Source: 7 Ways to Feed a Healthy Heart – the nourished epicurean