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Ten Diet and Lifestyle Strategies I wish my parents had followed to protect their hearts

By Ritamarie Loscalzo


Medical stethoscope and heart isolated on whiteI lost my parents prematurely because they failed to protect their heart health.  I vowed to overcome the genetic proclivity towards heart disease by adopting a heart healthy diet and lifestyle, and teaching it to as many people I can.

Here are a few key strategies I wish my family members had known about.  Had they practiced these, I believe they would still be with us today.

1. Consume omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The two main ones found in fish oils are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic (DHA). Vegetarians get short chain omega 3 fats from foods like chia, hemp, flax, algae  and walnuts.  As long as you have sufficient quantities of B vitamins, Magnesium, zinc and trace minerals, found in fresh, whole, organic foods, your body can convert your plant source omega 3 fats to cardio protective EPA and DHA.  You can also consume algae or supplements of EPA and DHA derived from algae.

2. Avoid refined table salt to control your intake of sodium.  Whole, unrefined sea salt is a better choice, in moderation, because it contains a wealth of trace minerals.

3. Increase your intake of potassium and magnesium rich foods to help reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular events independent of blood pressure. Eat a variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole non gluten grains. Dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of magnesium, as are nuts, legumes and whole non gluten grains. Potassium is found in unprocessed foods, especially rich in bananas, broccoli and avocado..

Lemon with garlic4. Enjoy garlic on a regular basis.  Many studies have demonstrated that garlic can decrease blood pressure and act as a natural ACE1 inhibitor and calcium channel blocker.   What this means is that it can help reduce the inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease and strengthen your heart.  Consume fresh garlic daily or a take a garlic supplement on a regular basis if you are at high risk and have a hard time eating a lot of garlic.

5. Fiber is your heart’s friend: Adequate amounts of fiber can positively influence blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and aid in the elimination of excess cholesterol through bile.   Best sources of fiber are whole fresh foods, at least 10 servings a day of vegetables and low sugar fruits.  If you take a fiber supplement, remember to drink adequate water.  For most people ½ your body weight in ounces of water is a good guide.

6. Celery has been shown to have antihypertensive properties due to its content of substances that act like ACE1 and calcium channel blockers. Eat four stalks a day or the equivalent in whole celery, celery juice, or celery seed extract.

oranges and cranberries7. Pink, orange and red fruits contain a substance called lycopene. Lycopene has been found to slightly reduce blood pressure. Lycopene rich fruits include tomato, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya and apricots.

8. Vitamin C supplementation, as little as 250-500mg twice a day has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients who have low blood ascorbate levels. Vitamin C is destroyed easily, by cooking, exposure to air and by oxidative by products in cooked and processed fats, environmental toxins and indoor air pollution.  A process called the Vitamin C flush will help you determine your ideal dose of this cardio protective nutrient.

9. Coenzyme Q-10 inhibits oxidation of LDL cholesterol, has positive protective effects for heart health and has been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Doses of 100 mg once or twice per day have been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure and help maintain CoQ10 levels in subjects who are consuming cholesterol inhibiting medications.

Happy and Healthy Valentine's Day10. A wholesome, fresh foods lifestyle, including exercise, stress management techniques, relaxation, fun, love and avoidance of habits like smoking, caffeine, processed hydrogenated fats and excessive anger and fear will go a long way towards protecting your heart.

Protect yourself and your family members.  Follow these heart healthy habits and keep a loving and positive attitude so you can celebrate holidays with loved ones rather than mourn your losses.


With Love, Health and Joy


Dr. Ritamarie

What’s your favorite way to protect your heart?  comment below






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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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