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Did you know that each year, heart disease and stroke kill more people in the U.S. than all cancers, lower respiratory diseases and cases of influenza and pneumonia combined?
Yet, with all we know about how to avoid these killers, 803,191 Americans still lost their lives in 2018 alone.
What does that mean? Is making lifestyle changes like getting more exercise, losing weight, drinking less alcohol, smoking less and relaxing more just too hard to do?
They’re not easy for sure. But what may be the hardest is following a heart-healthy diet. Sometimes being told what to eat is not as easy to follow as being told what not to eat…
And we’re saved! A brand-new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has given us a list of foods to avoid (and some to eat more of) that could substantially lower your risk of heart disease and stroke…
So take a quick minute to read what they are below, then stick this post to your refrigerator.
Pro-inflammatory foods linked to heart problems
Researchers have long known that chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of heart disease and stroke. That’s why a team of scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health set out to determine what foods have an impact on certain inflammatory biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis and how they affect heart risk.
The researchers followed over 210,000 participants for up to 32 years (clearly, this was no flash-in-the-pan study), then analyzed and evaluated inflammation levels associated with dietary intake of foods to determine inflammatory potential and the rate of cardiovascular disease.
And here’s what it came down to…
The researchers not only found that certain foods are what they call “pro-inflammatory” — meaning that they dramatically increase inflammatory biomarkers in the body. In fact, eating these foods can raise your risk of heart disease by a massive 46 percent and your risk of stroke by 28 percent!
Foods that are the major contributors to the pro-inflammatory diet index that you should avoid or severely restrict include:
- Refined sugars and grain
- Fried foods
- Processed, red and organ meats
It’s certainly no surprise to you that these foods are on the “bad for you” list. But now, you’ve got more incentive to avoid them knowing they can increase your heart disease risk by 46 percent, right?
On the other hand, the researchers say that consuming foods with higher levels of antioxidants and fiber could help combat the inflammation that starts the cascade into heart disease. Foods on the green light list are:
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula
- Yellow vegetables like pumpkin, yellow peppers, beans, carrots
- Whole grains
An inflammation-busting bonus
And they had one more tip to add, a little inflammation-fighting secret they discovered in a separate study — walnuts!
Previous studies had found that regular nut consumption is associated with lower heart disease risk and lower overall cholesterol. So, the team tested the nut powerhouse to see how it worked against inflammation (and whether lower inflammatory biomarkers were the secret behind the lowly nut’s ability to fight heart disease).
And they found that people who regularly ate walnuts (about 30-60 grams per day) showed significantly reduced levels of inflammation in the body in 6 out of 10 of the inflammatory biomarkers tested after two years.
If I had to guess, I’d say walnuts do so much good because they’re an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
You may have read my colleague’s post on how omega-3s were shown to help heart attack survivors come out on top. If not, it’s a fast two- minute read that details how ALA (plant-sourced omega-3) and EPA (omega-3s from fish) are a complementary heart-protective combination because EPA is associated with lower risk of hospital readmission and ALA is associated with lower risk of death.
So if you want to avoid becoming a statistic of America’s leading killer, support your heart health. Avoid foods on the pro-inflammatory list and add more walnuts to your diet. Your heart will thank you.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Leading Causes of Death — CDC
Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention — American Heart Association