Beating around 115 000 times and pumping the equivalent 7 500 litres of oxygen-rich blood every day, your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. Which is why we should treat it like the precious treasure that it is.
This is according to Kershnee Kallee, marketing manager at Jungle, who says with World Heart Day just around the corner (September 29), we should all remember to give our hearts the love they deserve. “Many of us take this vital organ for granted, but the heart really needs all the help it can get to stay healthy. A big part of this is taking in the right nutrients, while cutting down on the foods that increase bad cholesterol and blood pressure.”
Kallee says keeping a list of heart-friendly food choices on hand the next time you go shopping is the first step towards creating a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
Below Kallee lists her top picks for heart-friendly nutrient choices, and where to find them:
First in the line-up is beta-glucan, which is not only among the most important nutrients for healthy heart function, it can also be found in a myriad of foods. The biggest role that beta-glucan plays in the body is to help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. Lowering bad cholesterol is especially important because of the link between high cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Where to find it? Beta-glucan is present in grains such as barley as well as in certain types of mushrooms, baker’s yeast and some types of seaweed. However, perhaps one of the most affordable and abundant sources of this precious water-soluble fibre is oats.
The importance of fibre-rich foods to a heart-healthy diet cannot be understated. The fibre found in many foods has been shown to reduce heart disease risks by improving blood lipid profiles, lowering blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation and helping maintain a healthy body weight. Fibre has so many benefits that some say it is the key to longevity.
Where to find it? Oats, barley, beans, nuts, and fruits such as apples, berries, oranges and pears all contain fibre.
Antioxidants are substances that work to deactivate free radicals by binding to oxidants and preventing them from causing cell damage.
Where to find it? Making its third appearance on the list of affordable foods to contain these vital substances is oats. Other easy-to-find foods that qualify for this entry are leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and tea.
A humble mineral with a massive job to do, magnesium is necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle function, and keeps your heart rhythm steady. High intakes of magnesium are also believed to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Where to find it? Barley, oats, black beans, soy and tofu, almonds, pumpkin, sesame seeds and spinach are all excellent sources of magnesium.
The final entry on our list is also known as one of the B vitamins. It helps regulate the levels of the amino acid homocysteine which is linked to heart disease risks.
Where to find it? Spinach, mint, green and black gram and soy are some of the most well-known sources of folates. Oats also contain appreciable levels.