Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Western countries. Once you suffer from a heart event like a heart attack or stroke, your life can be dramatically changed. Prevention rather than treatment of heart disease is the best way to protect the quality of your life. It’s also the best way to reduce your healthcare costs.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk for heart disease is through diet. There are a number of healing foods that can boost the health and efficiency of your cardiovascular system. In particular, healthy fruits and vegetables contain special ingredients called flavonoids. By regularly eating a diet high in flavonoids, you could improve your heart’s ability to resist disease.
Researchers from three top-notch departments at the University of Chicago collaborated recently to find out exactly how flavonoids manage to protect the mechanisms of the heart as it does its tireless job of circulating blood and nutrients throughout your body. The researchers were from the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research and the Departments of Anesthesia and Critical Care.
The problem with “ischemic heart disease” (a phrase that refers to any acute or chronic heart disability resulting from an insufficient supply of oxygenated blood to the heart) is that specialized heart muscle cells can be injured or even die. First, the heart doesn’t get enough oxygenated blood; then, when blood flow is restored, something called “massive reactive oxygen species” can be released. It is these molecules that are responsible for the oxidative damage that can harm nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids.
Eating more flavonoids could help to program your heart to either generate less massive reactive oxygen species or to increase the ability of your body to remove these harmful molecules. In addition, flavonoids could play a role in the release of nitric oxide. One of the main jobs of nitric oxide is increasing blood flow by dilating blood vessels, and that’s why it’s sometimes given to heart patients. Studies have shown that nitric oxide might also be effective in lowering blood pressure.
For more information on the healthy benefits of eating flavonoids, plus some of the best food sources, read the article The Secrets Behind the Best Healing Foods.