Protecting your heart health and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease is an important reason to integrate a wellness program into everyday life. Vegetables provide the compounds the vascular system needs to function properly and are essential for complete functional nutrition.
The most common type of heart disease in the United States is CHD, or coronary artery disease. This condition causes chest pain, shortness of breath, and possible heart attack. The arteries are narrowed by accumulating cholesterol plaques. A blood clot can become more easily trapped in the narrowed sections, blocking blood flow to the heart.
There are healing dietary choices your functional medicine practitioner will recommend, including raising your fruit and vegetable intake. Research shows a decreased risk of 4% for each additional portion of vegetables and fruit eaten per day.1 Eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 30%.2
Which Vegetables Belong on Your Heart Healthy Foods List?
Although almost all fruits and vegetables contribute to these heart health benefits, some contain substances that are especially effective at supporting the vascular system’s optimal function.
Make sure to include:
- Green Leafy Vegetables
Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts are all excellent choices to provide carotenoids, which function as antioxidants to rid the body of free radicals. Kale, in particular, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to heart health. Vitamins, minerals, and fiber are plentiful, and calorie contents are low in these foods.
Bright red and bursting with lycopene, tomatoes also provide other antioxidants. Lycopene is believed to lower levels of bad cholesterol and keep blood vessels clear and open. Choose vine ripened tomatoes for the greatest benefit.
Rich with natural healthy oils, avocados provide monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol levels. With plenty of antioxidants and potassium, these green beauties enhance a meal or salad and provide satisfying calories to keep you feeling full longer.
This spring delicacy provides vitamin B6, which lowers levels of an amino acid linked to heart disease. Cooking just until tender will preserve the most vitamins.
- Peppers and Squash
All bell peppers and squash contain folate, which is another heart healthy compound that reduces the amino acid homocysteine.
- Onions and Garlic
Both onions and garlic contain phytochemicals, which reduce cholesterol levels and boost immunity. Cook lightly or use fresh whenever possible to get the full phytochemical effect.
- Carrots and Potatoes
Carrots provide carotenoids to fight free radicals, and potatoes provide high levels of potassium to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
At the Heart of the Matter
There are likely more undiscovered reasons to eat a wide variety of vegetables as part of your functional nutrition plan. Researchers are just beginning to document what integrative functional medicine understands: achieving optimal health requires supporting all of the body’s needs through healthy eating, exercise, traditional wellness practices, and innovative preventative medicine.
Creating your individualized nutritional program starts with understanding your body’s unique history and current condition. At Pollack Wellness Institute in New York, our team is ready to learn more about you and your individual needs to provide the best options that will promote your total wellbeing.
Your heart and vascular system have amazing healing abilities that need dietary support. There is no reason to keep feeling hungry, tired, and rundown. Start with a structured nutritional counseling session today and begin experiencing what it feels like to be truly healthy!