Cardiovascular Health

There are many elements of cardiovascular health in which nutrition can play a supportive role, including blood pressure, cholesterol and homocysteine.

When damage to veins and arteries occurs, plaque can collect in them containing elements such as cholesterol and proteins. This then narrows the vein or artery and raises blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Cholesterol is linked to heart disease. But not all cholesterol is bad cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol can also be vital to good health. There are 2 types good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterols in the body. Some cholesterol comes from your diet, but around 75% of it is produced by the liver.

Nutrition can play an important role in making sure that levels of "bad' cholesterol in the body don't get too high - with foods like soya, oats, nuts and barley actively helping to reduce cholesterol levels within the body.

Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood and comes from protein rich foods (such as meat), which in excess can affect elastin and collagen causing them to eat away at the structure of arteries.

  • folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin E help lower levels of homocysteine;
  • calcium and magnesium help control blood pressure and relax the heart muscle;
  • essential fatty acids help to thin the blood and support cell wall structure.

Certain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and folate can actively help to lower blood pressure. Look for them in foods such as low fat yogurt, kiwi, beans, bananas. And good news for chocolate lovers - a small amount of dark chocolate a day has also been shown to reduce blood pressure!

Eating foods such as nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and low fat dairy products - can help support cardiovascular health and the effects of homocysteine. Equally as important is limiting salt and sugar intake and drinking alcohol moderately.