Top 10 anti-inflammatory tips to reduce heart disease

Thu 20 July 2017

Inflammation plays an important role in the development of coronary heart disease, and recent research has concentrated on the role of diet in reducing this process in the hope of preventing or even reversing heart disease. In a recent study of 93 patients one nutrient called Lutein (a carotenoid) was found to produce important anti-inflammatory effects in patients with established coronary artery disease. Foods rich in Lutein include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and red peppers.

What does this mean in practice? Lutein rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables should be eaten in abundance! Reducing inflammatory processes in the body is an important strategy for the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease and is best considered as a part of a holistic diet and lifestyle approach.

Here are our top 10 anti-inflammatory nutrition tips:

1. Start the day on a protein rich breakfast to help stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the day.

2. Eat at least 2 portions of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, trout) per week.

3. Include a rainbow of different coloured fruit and vegetables, aiming for a minimum of 5 portions a day.

4. Reduce refined carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, white bread and pasta and sugary liquids such as soft drinks and fruit juice.

5. Choose healthy fats – olives, nuts, seeds, avocado and oily fish. Use extra virgin olive oil after cooking, to dress salads or make pesto. Use an alternative cooking method to frying, wherever possible.

6. If you eat meat, choose leaner cuts, eat red meat less often and reduce consumption of processed meats such as salami, bacon and ham. Eat more fish, peas, beans and lentils instead.

7. Check your vitamin D level. Known as the sunshine vitamin, only a small amount is obtained through diet and the majority is generated through the action of sunlight on the skin. Everybody is likely to benefit from supplementation over autumn and winter months.

8. Balance regular physical activity with restful practices such as yoga and Pilates for a healthy nervous system

9. Sleep well. Good sleep is vital for your body to complete its essential repair work. It also helps to improve your mood, concentration, immune function and fitness levels. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

10. Reduce physical and environmental stressors. Avoiding stress is easier said than done, but making time to relax for just 15 minutes a day can help to turn those mountains back into molehills. Try not to have more than 5 caffeinated drinks a day and if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.  You may want to consider buying natural cleaning products and stay away from smoking and passive smoke.

Meredy Birdi

Dietitian and Nutritional Therapist

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