The statistics for heart disease are not getting any better year after year. No matter how many pills your cardiologist has you taking or the number of dangerous (and expensive) surgical procedures being performed, people are killed by heart disease at an alarming rate! To top it all off, the “heart healthy diet” your doctor tells you to follow is probably making matters worse!
As a doctor myself, I can tell you that most of what mainstream medicine preaches in regard to protecting your heart is misguided. Basic oversight in the pursuit of profit has created a problem of epidemic proportions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 17.7 million people died as a direct result of cardiovascular disease (CVD) around the world in 2015. That’s what makes it the #1 killer in the world.
5 Quick Tips to Beating Heart Disease
- Stop using tobacco
- Control body weight
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Consume a heart healthy diet
These are standard, well-known methods for preventing and even reversing heart disease. They are proven approaches to keeping your heart safe and in proper working order. However, the last one – consuming a heart healthy diet – is under intense debate.
The Importance of Food
The Western Diet (also known as the Standard American Diet) is destructive to the human body overall and the organ that pays dearly for the food we consume is the heart. It’s the hardest worked muscle inside you and poor diet means it has to work even harder!
Health begins (and ends) with the food and beverages you consume.
If there is one thing you take away from what I’m about to tell you, it’s this: your diet matters more than anything else you’re doing to stay healthy. Some experts estimate that diet represents as much as 80% of your life span and disease risk.
This is common sense, when you think about it. What you eat and drink provides the basic building blocks (the raw materials) for every function inside you (millions of them every minute). Every breath you take, every beat of your heart, every signal from your brain to the rest of you must have fuel to operate and that fuel is created from what you put in your body.
Garbage in, garbage out is literally what you’re dealing with!
It seems everyone is slapping a “part of a heart healthy diet” label on their goods but what’s the truth? What foods should you be eating and what foods should you be avoiding to protect your heart (and the rest of your body)?
To start, you need to know that much of the information provided by the food industry is wrong and deliberately unclear. Keeping you confused about food and overall health works in the favor of profits so don’t expect them to clear things up anytime soon.
The fact is, what is pushed as “healthy” can too often have the opposite effect and leave your body feeling sick and deprived of key compounds it needs to survive.
The Garbage Diet of the Modern World
The wrong food combinations are being consumed, in ridiculous portions, and being supplemented by over-processed and toxin-heavy fake food that provides nothing while stripping your body of minerals and vitamins.
In fact, many of the foods regularly consumed by the majority of the population can actually inhibit your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients of the healthy foods you do eat!
Every problem has a solution. Heart disease claims around 1-in-3 men and 1-in-3 women every single day. The heart disease “treatments” are not working!
Let’s talk about the 5 most important things to remember to protect your heart. These tips are excellent for your total body health so you’re actually going to benefit all of you.
5 Critical Tips to Maintain a Heart Healthy Diet
- Choose unprocessed every chance you get. One of the biggest issues in our modern diet is the “easy” foods that save time and money. The reason they’re cheap is that they don’t use quality ingredients (sometimes, it’s not even real food but fillers). The reason they save time is because they’re packed with chemicals that enhance flavor and preserve them indefinitely. Cutting these “convenience” foods out is the first and most important step to helping your heart. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t recreate that same food at home with real food – skip it!
- Popular doesn’t mean right. For more than twenty years, we were told not to eat egg yolks because they increased your risk of heart disease. The medical community insisted they were nothing more than a “heart attack on a plate.” Now we know this is bogus. Eggs are good for every organ in your body because they possess good fats your body needs. They actually help protect your heart, control your cholesterol, and maintain a healthy body weight. They’re also one of the best brain foods out there!
- Food labels are almost a work of fiction. Raw, unprocessed foods are always best because they’re in their natural (original) state. If you can avoid bagged, boxed, or frozen foods (the one exception being frozen fruits and vegetables that contain no added ingredients), you cut out a ton of chemicals your body doesn’t need, struggles to process, and isn’t able to use to fuel your internal systems. Beware the “trans-fat free” or “diet” or “organic” labels because food manufacturers have all sorts of clever ways to get around what they’re supposed to be doing! Cutting down “serving size” gives them wiggle room to keep the same trans-fats and other garbage while still meeting government requirements. Eliminate any food with “hydrogenated” in it because those margarines and vegetable oils have been one of the biggest (and most dangerous) parts of the heart disease epidemic.
- If you aren’t sure – research! One amazing aspect of the world we live in is the access to information about any topic you can think of. Don’t just listen to one source about a question you have. If you’re curious about coconut oil (for instance), check out what the universities are saying about it and then see what standard doctors are saying and then see what holistic practitioners have to say. Don’t settle for the most popular opinion and don’t automatically dismiss a beneficial addition to your heart healthy diet. Do the work and figure out the foods your body needs and wants to work more efficiently and keep you chugging along!
- Ask about alternatives to prescriptions. Just because your doctor is a doctor doesn’t mean he or she is always right. Many in the medical community are pretty cozy with the pharmaceutical companies these days and that shows in the explosion of prescriptions for anything and everything that could possibly ail you. Before you agree to take that dangerous statin drug, ask what else you can do to lower the “bad” cholesterol (without the deadly side effects).
As a little added bonus, here is my go-to list of 25 foods I keep on hand at all times. I’m 73 and my heart is still going strong!
Top 25 Foods for a Heart Healthy Diet
- Fresh herbs – particularly oregano, thyme, and rosemary
- Red wine (in moderation), I prefer Champagne!
- Salmon, tuna, and sardines
- Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios
- Sweet potatoes
- Oranges and grapefruit
- Beans – especially black and pinto
- Extra virgin coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, lard, and tallow
- Flaxseeds and chia seeds (properly ground, to release the good nutrients)
- Cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate (but MUST be non-dutched; non-alkali treated)
- Greek yoghurt (but only if you are dairy-safe)
- Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and Swiss chard
- Grass-fed beef
Lifestyle choices do matter (see the least I put at the beginning of this article) but diet matters even more. Developing and maintaining a heart healthy diet is going to give you progress you can’t even imagine.
Here’s to every (healthy) beat of your heart!