11 Ways to improve Heart Health

November 13, 2014

CHICAGO- As the holidays approach, it’s easy to slip into bad eating habits. However, poor diet increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation – three major factors that affect overall heart health. In the November issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes that adding certain nutrients and foods to the diet that may decrease risk for heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the United States. 
  1. Phytosterols: These sterols are compounds similar to cholesterol that are found in all edible plants. They help reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is a main source of heart disease.
  2. Coca Flavanols: Research has shown that flavanols can help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow. Improving circulation is one way to lessen the chance of future heart-related problems (Barry Callebaut, 2014).
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These types of fatty acids are primarily found in fish and have been shown to decrease triglyceride levels, potentially lowering blood pressure.
  4. Hydroxytyrosol: This antioxidant is found in olive oiland protects blood lipids (fats) from oxidative damage.
  5. Blueberries: The regular consumption of blueberries is linked benefiting vascular health (Johnson, 2014) by lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Reducing high blood pressure is often an effective way to decrease the risk of heart disease.
  6. Oat Beta-Glucan: Daily consumption of at least three grams of oat beta-glucan effectively lowers cholesterol (DSM, 2014). High cholesterol is linked to heart disease and other health risks.
  7. Grape Seed Extract: This extract is shown to support blood pressure within a normal range.
  8. Vitamin K: Vitamin K helps to keep excess calcium out of blood vessel walls and improve cardiovascular health.
  9. Dairy: Case studies of people with hypertension revealed that the daily consumption of low-fat milk products decreases the risk of high blood pressure (Machin, 2014).
  10. Almonds: Consuming more almonds on a daily basis is shown to improve serum fatty acid profiles and decrease the overall risk of heart disease (Nishi, 2014).
  11. Walnuts: Like almonds, walnuts are good for reducing the risk of heart disease due to their alpha linolenic acid (ALA), content. Studies show that a walnut-enriched diet results in lower cholesterol (Wu, 2014).  
Read the full article in Food Technology here
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This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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