Tag Archives: vitamin c

5 Wholesome Healthy Heart Foods

The sudden influx of the UK health conscious culture over the last decade has caused many of us to take a long hard look at ourselves ask one simple question – How can I be healthier? Dramatic and unsustainable lifestyle changes really don’t work, so many of us have taken to the idea of changing a small part of our lifestyle one piece at a time. Joining the gym is an option that works for many, but a commonly overlooked area is taking a look at the foods we eat. With coronary heart disease still standing as the number 1 killer in the United Kingdom according the National Office of Statistics, changing what we eat on a day-to-day basis will have a dramatic effect on our heart health.

Although year-on-year statistics are falling with medical advances in science, and as a Nation are making changes in our day-to-day lives, there is still room for improvement. There are obvious requirements such as exercising regularly, eating healthier and drinking less alcohol – but keeping a healthy heart can as simple as avoiding the salt soaked fat induced morsels that tempt up on a daily basis.

Take a look at our recommended 5 wholesome hearty foods and try integrating them today:

Olive Oil

Used daily by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean isles, olive oil has been shown to help regulate blood flow, whilst being rich in healthy mono-saturated fats. According a new 2012 study compiled by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “just 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day almost halves your risk of dying from heart disease”. It’s important to look at swapping saturated fats such as butter or lard that raise the risk of heart disease,  for unsaturated fats like olive oil to help lower your overall cholesterol.

Suggestion: Drizzle over your favourite salad leaves or roasted vegetables! 

Pears

Apples and pears are naturally high in fibre and antioxidants, hence the encouragement to try and eat one at least once a day. The fibre in pears however is made from “pectin” water soluble fibres which has been shown to reduce cholesterol by binding molecules in the bowel instead allowing them to circulate through the bloodstream. Pears also contain antioxidant flavonoids which help to support your cardiovascular health inhibiting plaque formations in the arteries.

Suggestions: Eat as you would normally or try sliced as a dessert or into salads. 

Blueberries

Known as one of the most powerful fruits money can buy, blueberries are powerful disease fighters loaded with antioxidants which work to protect the body against free radicals. The unique blue pigmentation comes from anthocyanins, responsible for providing most of the anti-oxidant properties. Rich in vitamin C, Blueberries are packed with fibre which is essential for lowering your cholesterol levels.

Suggestions: Delicious on their own or sprinkled over your breakfast cereal 

Garlic

Forget the fact that Garlic is the last thing you want to eat on a first date – Garlic is a pocket-sized superfood you simply don’t want to ignore. This spice has been shown to cure and alleviate a number of medical ailments for decades. Research into the properties of garlic and the cause of it’s wonder-powers show how it decreases the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries. Lower calorific values of just 10 calories per clove make them a healthy way of adding flavour to any dish. Garlic also contains allicin which helps to keep blood flowing easily, reducing your blood pressure overall.

Suggestion: Crushed into most foods for added flavour or roasted with vegetables & sweet potatoes

Mackerel

Oily fish such as herring, sardines and mackerel contain high levels of omega-3 – a vital ingredient for improving your overall heart health. The British Heart Foundation recommends that you consume at least two portions of fish each week, with a portion of oily fish at least once a week. Consuming fish this regularly has been shown to help decrease blood pressure, regulate heart beat and make blood less susceptible to clotting.

Suggestion: Steamed with a squeeze of lemon for flavour – delicious! 

 

 

The Vitamin League Table: Which vitamin is the best?

Many of us agree that vitamins and minerals are vital in maintaining good health, but there are also many questions related to the the intake of vitamins and whether they can affect us in negative ways. In a recent health article published by the Readers Digest, the Vitamin League Table demonstrates how vitamins, whilst having an overall positive effect, can have both high and low points. Here’s a quick summary of the most common vitamins that we intake each day:

Vitamin A

  • Where – Found in animal & fish livers, along with many vegetables such as carrots and broccoli. Used for healthy bones, eyes and skin.
  • High Point – Works well with other vitamins and is a common part of many “multivitamin” supplements.
  • Low Point – A study a few years ago showed how synthetic beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A, when given to smokers increased their chance of cancer.
  • Latest Information – Used in Anti-Ageing wrinkle creams through a combination of retinol and vitamin A.

Vitamin Rating 1 / 5


Vitamin B

  • Where – Found in protein foods such as turkey or tuna. Vegetable sources include potatoes, bananas and lentils. Used for healthy skin, muscle tone and cell growth.
  • High Point – Found to be effective in reducing heart disease risk when combined with “statin”  – Promotes good cholesterol levels.
  • Low Point – Homocysteine has been linked with causing cardiovascular diseases – Vitamin B lowers homocysteine levels but research is still poor and inconclusive.
  • Latest Information – Recent study in Oxford shows how lowering homocysteine with vitamin B helped with brain shrinkage and loss of memory with elderly patients.

Vitamin Rating 4/ 5

 

Vitamin C

  • Where – Widely available in fruits and vegetable across the board. It’s antioxidants are vital for helping various enzymes in our body work properly and neutralising free radicals.
  • High Point – Shown in the 1970’s to have a proven effect against colds and cancer when provided in high doses.
  • Low Point – New research suggests vitamin C not related to the cure of the common cold. Some trials suggest that when taken as a supplement, no clear benefits given.
  • Latest Information – Vitamin C being used once more in cancer treatment. Tests have shown tumour shrinkage in animals, with human trials currently under way.

Vitamin Rating 3/ 5


Vitamin D

  • Where – Produced in the skin by the UVB rays in sunlight – Not great if you live somewhere with little sun! Small amounts can be taken from oily fish, eggs and animal liver.
  • High Point – A number of studies suggest that many people who reside in northern countries such as the UK don’t have enough vitamin D. Further studies suggest that people who have at least 30 nanograms per millimetre in their blood are less likely to suffer from cancer, and heart disease.
  • Low Point – Same positive effects of vitamin D not proven when taken in supplement form – Other certain studies suggest otherwise.
  • Latest Information – By the end of winter, the average UK person will have 10 nanograms per millimetre in the blood, way below the suggested 30 nanograms per millimetre.

Vitamin Rating 5/ 5


Vitamin E

  • Where – Found in asparagus, avocado, eggs, milk and seeds. Antioxidant that helps to keep free radicals under control, like vitamin C
  • High Point – In the 1990’s many studies showed that people taking it as a supplement had reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Low Point – Big studies in 2000 showed how it slightly increased the risk of heart disease when compared to the intake of a placebo. The test was carried out on heart patients who were taking “statins”, which have been known to reduce CoQ10 – which is required for vitamin E to work properly.
  • Latest Information – More testing and trials are required for further conclusion – Vitamin E is possibly one of the more inconclusive vitamins.

Vitamin Rating 2/ 5

Vitamin K

  • Where – Found predominately in green vegetables including spinach, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts. Needed to help the blood clot properly.
  • High Point – Research has shown that it improves bone density, along with controlling how much calcium is released into the arteries. Too much calcium can cause heart disease.
  • Low Point – No negative points documented to date.
  • Latest Information – A lack of vitamin K has been shown to result in gut problems – Any supplement you take should contain K2.

Vitamin Rating 3/ 5


An insightful write up by the Readers Digest – Credit goes to all relevant authors. For more information on vitamins, here’s a great resource: