Foods that are good for the heart

It’s Valentine’s Day, and what to talk about if not for the well-being of the heart? It’s just the right day to tackle this topic! Let me be clear: we are not speaking properly of feelings (or at least not only of those), but of how to keep fit the most important muscle of all.

First of all, to keep the heart healthy it is essential to keep under control the weight and the abdominal circumference (which must be less than 88 cm for women and 102 cm for men), limit the consumption of salt (also taking into account the current one inside some foods, especially in preserved foods) and practice physical activity constantly. And then, very important, keep the blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides under control with proper nutrition.

Regarding cholesterol, it is important to remember that it consists of different components, the most important are the bad cholesterol LDL, dangerous for the arteries and the good HDL, with “scavenger” effect for our vessels. A heart diet should therefore contemplate foods that lower LDL cholesterol and at the same time raise the beneficial HDL fraction.

Among the beneficial foods for the heart there are those rich in antioxidants, important because they prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL, a process that leads to the formation of plaque on the walls of the arteries. Many foods belonging to the category of fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, in particular nuts (vitamin E), grapes (resveratrol), citrus fruits and kiwi (vitamin C).

Other foods that should not be missing are those rich in omega-3. The intake of omega 3 fatty acids, together with regular physical exercise, is able to lower blood levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and, at the same time, to raise the good HDL fraction. To complement the omega-3 there are omega-6 fatty acids that have an action especially in decreasing LDL levels.

Fatty fish are particularly rich in omega-3, especially salmon and bluefish. Other foods rich in omega-3 are nuts and dried fruit in general (also rich in omega-6). We also remember the flax seeds, excellent sources of omega-3, and the borage oil, rich in omega-6, both ingredients of Bivo.

There are other types of lipids that help us to combat hypercholesterolemia, such as oleic acid, contained in extra virgin olive oil, which has a good effect especially in increasing good HDL cholesterol. Also the leaves of the olive tree contain a substance called hydroxytyrosol, which is important for the cardiovascular system. This molecule plays an important action in preventing the oxidation of atherosclerotic plaque. Many supplements on the market are based on hydroxytyrosol and, moreover, can be contained in a variable quantity in extra virgin olive oil, in particular if derived from artisans.

Also useful are foods high in soluble fiber, effective in lowering the harmful LDL fraction. Among the foods rich in this type of fiber, we recall oats, rich in beta-glucans, and legumes, rich in phytosterols. Oats and legumes (peas in particular) are present in the formulation of Bivo.

The roundup on the food friends of the heart does not end there, there are still many, among which it is worth mentioning garlic, used since ancient times to treat heart disease and hypertension because it inhibits calcification of coronary; spinach, rich in folic acid and potassium that fight hypertension; the artichoke that lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and tomatoes that contain lycopene that helps prevent hardening of the arteries (similar action on the vessels is also carried out by pomegranates). We close this beneficial list with the cranberry juice, a real panacea for the arteries because it contrasts the accumulation of fat in the walls of the arteries.

As you will have understood, there are many foods that help our heart to keep fit and in this article we have mentioned some of the most important, among which four appear in the Bivo formula: oats, peas, flax seeds and the borage oil. And so, on Valentine’s Day, we can only conclude by saying that … Bivo is good for the heart!

Paola Salgarelli, Biologist Nutritionist, specialist in Food Science