Antioxidants for Heart Health

Healthy Heart
on August 13, 2011
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Heart health is something everyone should be concerned about. Heart disease is prevalent, yes, but it is also preventable. Check out the information here and protect your heart with all you know.

Spit out the pill and pick up the fork. Recent studies, such as the giant meta-analysis by Cleveland Clinic, suggest that antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta carotene, when taken as supplements, are not effective and that vitamin E may actually be counterproductive to heart health. The American Heart Association reiterates this opinion and promotes the dietary approach to reducing coronary heart disease risk and overall support for heart health. What this means is: Forget the vitamins and eat an antioxidant, fiber-rich diet to gain the heart health benefits of these vital nutrients.

Fight free radical damage with antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances that can be found in vitamins, minerals and other food compounds. It is believed that antioxidant-rich foods protect the body by thwarting and combating the free radical damage done to the body every day with respiration, exposure to sunlight and other forms of oxidation creation. Oxidation adds a molecule of oxygen to low-density lipoproteins and contributes to plaque buildup, which in turn can slow or block blood flow to the heart and create clots that can lead to heart disease, damage and heart attack.

Antioxidants are superheroes that fight for heart health. Certain foods are rich in these antioxidant champions. Fill your plate with daily doses of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain the top free radical fighters that have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — specifically vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene.

The foods you need to fall in love with are:

  • Vitamin C — Citrus fruits; citrus juices; all berries; dark leafy green vegetables, like spinach, asparagus, peppers (green, red, yellow, orange), Brussels sprouts; watercress; broccoli; tomatoes; pineapple; cantaloupe; mangoes; guava; kiwi fruit; star fruit; ugly fruit and papaya are all great sources of this antioxidant.
  • Vitamin E — Oils such as olive, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean and cottonseed are a few rich sources of this vital nutrient. Nuts, nut butters, seeds, whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, split peas and dark leafy green veggies are full of vitamin E.
  • Selenium — Brazil nuts, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy, garlic, molasses, seafood, brewer’s yeast and most veggies are rich in selenium.
  • Beta carotene — Dark orange and red, as well as some yellow and green vegetables and fruits, contain beta carotene. Try broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red, orange and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangoes.
Found in: Healthy Heart