12 Foods to Eat for a Healthy Heart

Heart and Cardiovascular Disease:

The heart is an organ that pumps blood throughout the body through the circulatory system, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes. It provides the tissues of the body with blood and nutrients 24/7. Without the heart pumping blood throughout the body, the tissues and organs in our body will die. Besides the brain, heart is a vital organ which keeps us alive.

Even though the heart has such an influence on the human body, many Americans do not seem to show enough interest in this organ. This ignorance can be seen since approximately 92 million people in the United States have some form of heart/cardiovascular disease. There are some risk factors that cannot be controlled such as gender, age and family history. But most factors are under human control mainly lifestyle factors. Following a healthy lifestyle; eating heart healthy foods, maintaining a wholesome weight and engaging in some form of physical activity can benefit the heart to a great extent.

Heart Anatomy and Physiology:

The heart is made up of four blood-filled areas and these areas are called chambers. There are two chambers at the top and two at the bottom. The two chambers on top are called the atria. The atria are the chambers that fill with the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs. The heart has a left atrium and a right atrium. The two chambers at the bottom are called the ventricles. The heart has a left ventricle and a right ventricle. Their job is to eject out blood to the body and lungs. The left atria and left ventricle are separated from the right atria and right ventricle by a wall of muscle called the septum.

Blood Flow through the Heart:

The heart has two types of circulation; pulmonary and systemic circulation. In pulmonary circulation, carbon dioxide rich blood leaves the right ventricle of the heart through the pulmonary artery and travels to the lungs, then arrives to the left atrium as oxygenated blood through the pulmonary vein. In systemic circulation, oxygenated blood leaves the body through the left ventricle to the aorta(largest artery in the body), and from there enters the arteries and capillaries where it supplies the body with oxygen and nutrients. Deoxygenated blood returns through veins to the vena cava (largest vein in the body), and the cycle repeats.

Genetics and Heart Disease:

Recent discoveries have shown the impact of genetics on both the prediction and the treatment of heart disease. In most cases heart disease is caused by variants in a number of different genes. The more copies of variants you have, the more likely you are at risk for heart disease. Many researchers have used genetic risk scores as a predictive measure of heart disease susceptibility. According to a study done at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers found genetic risk scores to be more accurate than family history for predicting heart attacks. This is because most people are at risk of heart disease through genetics, lifestyle factors also play a role. Currently, genetic risk scores are not available to the public. A lot more interpretation is to be done to make these scores and other genetic testing understandable to the public.

Heart-Healthy Eating:

Heart disease accounts for 1 out of 7 deaths in the United States and is the no. 1 killer of Americans. The most preventive strategies lay emphasis on eating foods that are nutrient dense and high in healthy fats and fiber. Below shows some of the foods that keeping your heart beating at a steady pace for life.

  • Leafy green vegetables(spinach, kale, collard greens, etc)
  • Salmon
  • Whole grains
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans and legumes
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Green tea
  • Olive oil
  • Dark Chocolate

As most people contract heart disease through family history, it is important to incorporate a unique selection of foods. This is important because there are some nutrients that benefit your gene expression and make you less vulnerable to heart disease. If you eat to achieve a purpose, you make healthier and wiser decisions for life. Thus promoting wellness and productivity for a lifetime.