Did you know that more women are treated for heart disease than breast cancer? It's a dizzying statistic but physician, nutritionist, speaker, award-winning patient educator, and author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, Steven Masley, MD, says it's a reality we all need to face and do something about now. In fact, six times more women die of heart disease than breast cancer but he believes we can significantly reduce this number and prevent 90% of cases with lifestyle changes alone. So where do you start?
Well, you can kick off your healthier program today by supplementing your diet with some simple food swaps, ditching the junk food for nutrient-dense snacks, and introducing some regular exercise. For a little more in-depth insight, Masley shared the top five nutrients you can get through diet every day, along with some supplement recommendations to keep your heart at 100.
Eat More Fiber
If you didn't know already, eating a balanced diet is the key to achieving optimal health and wellness but when it comes to heart health, fiber is essential. According to Dr. Masley, "if you only change one aspect of your diet, adding fiber would be my top priority."
Signs of deficiency: Constipation, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol profiles, rapid aging.
Recommended dose: 30 to 50 grams daily.
Foods Rich in Fiber:
- Apple, medium, 3 grams
- Avocado, ½, medium, 6.5 grams
- Carrots, 1 cup, 6 grams
- Pear, medium, 5.1 grams
- Raspberries, ½ cup frozen, 5 grams
- Beans, 1 cup, cooked, 13 to 19 grams
- Quinoa, 1 cup cooked, 5 grams
Take Fish Oil
We already know it's the one supplement every woman should take but Dr. Masley wants everyone to take it, regardless of gender. "Fish oil contains long chain omega-3 oils which are reported to reduce the risk of heart attacks," he explained. "They reduce inflammation and are being studied in pregnancy to optimize fetal brain formation."
Recommended dose: 1000 mg EPA and DHA daily
Foods rich in omega-3 fat (3.5 oz serving):
- Anchovies, 1.75 grams herring, 2.1 grams
- Mussels, 0.7 grams oysters, 0.6 grams
- Salmon, Pacific, silver, wild, 4 grams
- Sardines, canned in water, 1.9 grams
- Trout, rainbow, wild, or farmed, 1.2 grams
Supplement With Magnesium
If there's a magic nutrient that can solve all (well, most) of your health woes, it's magnesium. Not only is it included in hundreds of anti-aging reactions, it's also proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, ease PMS and cramps, and prevent constipation. And a study of seven prospective trials in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that daily magnesium intake of 100 milligrams per day reduced the participants' risk of stroke by 8%.
Signs of deficiency: Constipation, irregular heartbeat, migraines, insomnia, muscle cramps.
Recommended dose: 400 to 600 milligrams daily as Mg-glycinate, -malate chelate, or -citrate (avoid Mg oxide)
Foods Rich in Magnesium:
- Pumpkin/squash seed kernels, 151 mg/oz Brazil nuts, 107 mg/oz
- Bran cereal (100%), 103 mg/oz Quinoa (dry), 89 mg/2 oz
- Spinach (cooked), 81 mg/0.5 cup almonds, 78 mg/oz
- Black beans (cooked), 60 mg/0.5 cup
Ramp Up Your Vitamin D
Did you know that our bones start to age after 35? Vitamin D supports healthy and strong bones and Dr. Masley says a deficiency is associated with bone pain, increased risk of cancer, autoimmune disease, cognitive decline, depression, and cardiovascular disease. So it might be time to find out if yours is low and ramp it up.
Recommended dose: 1000-3000 IU vitamin D3 daily. (A vitamin D 25 Hydroxy blood level of 40 ng/mL is optimal)
Foods Rich in Vitamin D:
- Milk (fortified OJ or soy milk): 100 IU/ 8 oz egg: 25 IU/yolk
- Cold water fish, 100-350 IU/3.5 oz (fattier fish has more vitamin D)
Don't Forget Vitamin K
It's not often vitamin K comes up in the supplement must-haves we should take, but Dr. Masley says it's essential for bone and artery health. "Without vitamin K, bones lose calcium and arteries become stiff as they accumulate calcium," he explained.
Recommended dose: 250-1000 mcg Vitamin K daily
Foods rich in vitamin K:
- Kale, cooked, 1062 mcg/cup collards, cooked, 1059 mcg/cup
- Onion, raw, 207mcg/cup spinach, cooked, 889 mcg/cup
- Beets, cooked, 697 mcg/cup broccoli, cooked, 220 mcg/cup
How do you keep your heart at peak condition? What are the recipes you love that incorporate these heart healthy foods?