Looking after your heart health is crucial for your overall wellbeing. And according to experts if you can do so with just a few kitchen ingredients.
Integrative Cardiologist, Dr Jason Kaplan says: "Surprisingly, just over five per cent of Australian adults have an adequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables – that’s two serves of fruit and five-to-six serves of vegetables per day – both of which are essential for good heart health."
Here are his top six ingredients to have at hand in the kitchen.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function. Studies show that a higher intake of leafy greens is associated with a lower risk of heart-related health issues.
Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries are a good source of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue plants their rich colouring. They also protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart problems.
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and may lead to a lower risk of developing coronary artery disease. They are also a rich source of potassium, which may protect against an irregular heartbeat and contribute to blood pressure lowering.
Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Fatty fish – like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna – are high in omega-3 fatty acids and may help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol
Walnuts have higher antioxidant activity and are significantly higher in omega-3 fat than any other nut. The antioxidants in walnuts can help fight oxidative damage in your body, including damage due to ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, which promotes hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Aged Garlic Extract
This is different to regular fresh garlic you can buy at the supermarket. Aged garlic extract is organic raw garlic that has gone through a unique heat-free ageing process for up to 20 months to ensure the active compounds are not damaged. This process transforms the garlic into a powerful antioxidant, that is more bioavailable (easily absorbed) than regular raw garlic, and is odourless, which means it doesn’t cause garlic breath! The potent antioxidant called Sallylcysteine (SAC) which is unique to aged garlic extract is thought to provide the majority of its therapeutic benefit in reducing risk factors for the development of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation levels in our body.
Aged garlic extract is sold as a dietary supplement at your local chemist or vitamin store.