5 Tips for Heart Health

February 7, 2017

By Anna Varriano

February is Heart Health Month, so what better time to share some tips for maintaining and/or improving cardiovascular health!

#1 – Avoid sugar.

keep calm no sugarNot just the white stuff you add to coffee, tea, and baking, but sugar in all its forms, including foods that can quickly raise blood sugar levels such as processed grains and products made with them (think pastas, breads, crackers, baked goods), white rice, potatoes, and corn … and products made with their high glycemic flours or starches, including many gluten-free products (BUYER BEWARE! gluten-free doesn’t mean ‘healthy’ – read the labels!). Soft drinks are the worst contributors to North America’s sugar-related health problems, and while diet soft drinks might sound like a healthier alternative, the artificial sweeteners that replace sugar carry a whole host of other health issues. Thirsty? Drink water! The bottom line: high blood sugar and insulin levels (the hormone that tries to bring down our blood sugar) irritate and inflame the lining of our blood vessels, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

#2 – Eat more veggies.

veggie headSelect a variety of colours and strive to make your lunch and dinner plate at least 50% veggies. Beets, dark leafy greens, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell peppers (eat the white pithy parts on the inside too!), garlic, leek, and onions are often associated with heart health.


#3 – Eat fat.

skinny-on-fatsYes, I said eat fat … healthy fat, like eggs (the yolk too!), coconut oil, butter (ditch the margarine!), extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil to name a few. The topic of fats is one of the most misunderstood topics in nutrition, and being misinformed on this topic can be hazardous to your heart-health and overall health. Get the lowdown on fats by watching my pre-recorded Skinny on Fats webinar.

#4. Snack on raw nuts.

Many nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and pecans are a good source of hearty-healthy fibre, magnesium, and fats. Studies show that eating raw nuts reduces the risk of nutsheart disease. While almonds are popular, I encourage you to change it up and eat a variety of different raw nuts – pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts … you get the picture! They all offer unique nutrients and health benefits. In general, an ounce of nuts per day (about a handful) is an acceptable serving.

#5. Take supplements.

biomega-3With busy lifestyles and often less-than-optimal food choices, heart health can benefit from some support. After all, the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, beating constantly to keep us alive. While there are numerous supplements that support heart health (e.g. B12, Vitamin K, Vitamin D, magnesium), two very important ones are fish oil and Coenzyme Q10. It’s particularly important to supplement with CoQ10 if you are taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (which are often not necessary … you may want to read this blog about cholesterol).

I’ve written quite a few blogs on cardiovascular health over the years. You can find them by typing the word ‘heart’ in the search box on my website (See where the big red arrow is pointing in the image below? That’s what I’m talking about) Show your heart some love and give it a whirl! In fact, give it a whirl with any health or nutrition topic you’re interested in!

website search bar

Take control of what you can for a happy, healthy heart!