Matters of the heart

18.09.2020
3 min read

We know that socioeconomic factors make up a lot of what affects our health. In fact, socioeconomic factors are good 40% of our health. While our physical environment is responsible for about 10% of our well-being.  Another 20% comes from health care: what counts is both having access to it and the quality of health care. And what remains, 30%, comes from so-called health behaviors. What do they include? Tobacco usage, alcohol consumption, sexual activity, exercise, and, of course, diet. 

Worldwide 2017 came with 56 million deaths. 

The main cause of death is still cardiovascular disease (17,8%) followed very closely by cancer. Cancer is only on the second place with 9,6%. 6,5% died of respiratory conditions. 

The remaining percentage includes such conditions as diabetes, liver failure, AIDS, tuberculosis, and others. But heart issues, unfortunately, kill the biggest number of people. 

The good news is that we can take charge of our lives and can control our health adjusting our lifestyle and our habits.  What is even better is that the way to decrease these risks is actually fairly simple and you definitely have heard of it: proper nutrition.

Food, as a remedy for the heart and cardiovascular issues.

Food is a foundation of our health. However, food can also contribute to our diseases. (Including cardiovascular diseases!) 

Vitamin E 

Which foods contain it? Wheat germ oil, almonds, hazelnuts, organic peanut butter and  organic peanuts, corn oil, spinach, kiwi fruit, pumpkin seeds, and avocado.  

A trial took place in 2005, and the results from the Women’s Health Study, a randomized trial that followed about 36,000 women for more than 10 years, showed that an everyother-day supplement of 600 IU of vitamin E decreased the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 25%. 

Fatty acids 

Which foods contain it? Salmon, oysters, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.  

First of all, what are they, fatty acids? They are components of lipids and they are important for cellular processes.  Specifically omega-3 fatty acids have favorable effects on a range of risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and inflammation. On top of that, it may also help maintain normal heart and blood vessel function.  

In 1998, data from the Physicians’ Health Study showed that men who ate fish once a week were half as likely to die suddenly from a heart attack as men who ate fish less than once a month.   

One year later, a report in The Lancet described a randomized controlled trial - with about 12,000 men who had suffered a heart attack - in which some of the participants took a fish oil supplement. Those who took the fish oil supplement had significantly lower rates of heart attack, stroke, or death during the next three-and-a-half years. Sudden death rates dropped by 45%.   

People who take statin drugs (drugs that lower blood cholesterol levels) may also benefit from omega-3 supplements.   

A randomized trial of 19,000 Japanese men and women with high cholesterol levels found that, after four-and-a-half years, those who took a statin together with an omega-3 supplement had 19% fewer coronary events - in particular, unstable angina and nonfatal heart attacks - than those who took the statin alone.

Magnesium

Which foods contain it? Various nuts, spinach, cereal, organic soy milk, black beans, edamame, organic peanut butter, cashews, avocado, rice, organic yogurt, pumpkin seeds, organic tofu, dark chocolate.   

Blood levels of magnesium that are below the normal range are clearly related to a higher risk of heart electrical disturbances and death.   Such levels are typically seen in people with kidney disease or in those who are taking certain drugs that lower magnesium levels.   

In a review and meta-analysis of 16 studies, people with a higher level of magnesium circulating in their blood had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those with low blood magnesium levels; likewise, people who got adequate magnesium from their diets had a 22% lower risk of suffering from ischemic heart disease (blockages in the heart’s arteries that can lead to heart attacks). Higher dietary intake of magnesium has also been associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death in women, according to an observational study by Harvard-affiliated scientists. However, more study is needed to determine the role of magnesium in preventing cardiovascular disease and events.  A peculiar fact about magnesium is that the majority of magnesium in the body is found in bones. And if your blood levels are low, your body may tap into these reserves to correct the problem.

So better keep that magnesium level high (together with your fatty acids and vitamin E) and make sure your diet is plenty of those heart-nourishing goodness-filled foods!  With a simple combination of fresh and high quality products (doesn’t salmon with spinach and avocado with a side of rice sound good..?) you can achieve a perfect nutritious mix for supporting your cardiovascular health