When I was 12 years old, my father almost died of a stroke. He was overweight and had already suffered a heart attack at the young age of 35 years old. Through the power of nutrition and exercise he dramatically improved his health. He lost 80 pounds and started long distance running. This is my personal story that most people don’t know. It’s what led me to become a plant-based nutrition expert and naturopathic doctor. It’s the reason I live a preventative lifestyle and am committed to helping my patients address cardiovascular risk factors with holistic recommendations. According to the CDC, one person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. And these days, it seems we are hearing more and more about even young people experiencing strokes and heart attacks.
There are many reasons people suffer from cardiovascular disease and dysfunction but in this article I will focus on using plant-based nutrition and specific nutrient recommendations to support heart health generally. If you don’t already know, Peoples Rx has some of the best local, organic, and plant-based food options in the city. Check out some of my favorites for heart health below! Not everyone will be called to become a vegan, but adding in more nutrient-dense, plant-based foods to your diet could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower your blood pressure, and optimize your lipids.
Top Plant-based Peoples Rx Foods to Support the Cardiovascular System
- Up Beet Raw Organic Juice – This is a delicious beet based, organic, cold-pressed juice that every beet lover and hater should try! If you love beets, you’ll get addicted; if you hate beets, you’ll be surprised! Beets are rich in nitrates which the body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and widens blood vessels which can in turn bring blood pressure down. This juice is also a great source of vitamin C which is a powerful vitamin for supporting the endothelium of blood vessels.
- Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding – Chia seeds are a great source of soluble fiber and omega-3s. Soluble fiber has the potential to lower total cholesterol and LDL by forming a gel in the intestines, binding up cholesterol and excreting it, therefore reducing its absorption into the bloodstream. Blueberries also have soluble fiber and anthocyanins, a type of flavonoids that research has shown can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
*Pro tip: Add Dr. Mitchell’s Fruit Anthocyanins on top of the chia pudding for extra delicious health benefits.
- Greek Salad – This delicious quick bite is packed full of oleic acid from olives and olive oil (in the dressing) which is a beneficial monounsaturated fat. Studies show that switching out saturated fats for oleic acid can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Olives are also a rich source of vitamin E.
- Middle Eastern Vegan Wrap – If you are looking for a satisfying plant-based wrap, this fits the bill. In this delicious meal, you get the benefit of soluble fiber from chickpeas, oleic acid from olive oil, and it is rich with plant-based protein that keeps you full.
Top Peoples Rx Supplements for Heart Health:
- Nova Complete by NuMedica – This is a special formula created by Peoples’ very own resident pharmacist and clinical nutritionist, Jim Meyer. It is a great option for people affected by elevated blood pressure. L-citrulline and beet root powder help the body make more nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels, potentially lowering blood pressure. What I love about Nova Complete that I do not see in any other nitric oxide supplements, is 200 mg of Chinese Hawthorn leaf extract. This herb can lower lipids, decrease high blood pressure, and improve circulation. Not only can you receive cardiovascular benefits from Nova Complete, but men and women both can use this supplement for sexual dysfunction in which improved blood flow can address the root.
- CoQnol 100 Designs for Health – Many people who have gone down the supplement road to improve the health of their heart will know about CoQ10. It is a powerful antioxidant, also known as ubiquinol or ubiquinone. Many of our customers take it to offset the depletion of CoQ10 they get from taking statins, the group of medications that reduce their cholesterol. As we age, our own production of CoQ10 decreases and the importance of CoQ10 entering into our cells becomes even more crucial for elderly with cardiovascular challenges. CoQnol 100 is a brilliant formula that combines CoQ10 with trans-geranylgeraniol (GG). Trans-geranylgeraniol is an essential building block for the production of CoQ10. In this formula GG helps you restore your own endogenous production of CoQ10 and allows CoQ10 to enter into the cell more effectively.
- Xcellent E by Xymogen – I highlight the importance of vitamin E here because I think it often gets overlooked. Right now we are hyper-focused on the vitamins we have pigeonholed as “immune boosting”. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can protect us against forming clots in our coronary arteries. We know that vitamin E is also very beneficial for our brains, skin and eyes. Research has gone back and forth at touting its benefits but proclaiming not enough evidence. I truly feel that most people are under consuming foods rich in Vitamin E or not absorbing this fat-soluble vitamin well. Xcellent E is mixed with tocotrienols and tocopherols and is formulated for superior absorption.
- Magnesium Glycinate by Pure Encapsulations – Perhaps you have heard the praises of magnesium and all the benefits you can reap from supplementing with this important mineral. We absolutely love magnesium glycinate— every single day the wellness team hears a new testimonial on how it has helped a customer sleep or recover from exercise, or just how it has kept them feeling great overall! When someone has slightly elevated blood pressure, this is one of the first products we like to recommend they try and discuss with their doctor. By modulating vascular tone and modifying the release of nitric oxide, some people can experience a slight reduction in blood pressure. Luckily it doesn’t seem to lower already optimal or low blood pressure but more so modulates higher levels.
Whether you are already afflicted by cardiovascular challenges or you are just trying to minimize your risks, our friendly and experienced wellness staff can provide informed recommendations to discuss with your healthcare team. As always, we are here to support you wherever you are on your wellness journey.
If you have comments and/or questions about this blog, email us at email@example.com.
Dr. Lauren Sanchez, ND* helps people who want to feel their best and gain more energy and optimal wellness through a plant-based diet. Learn more about her approach to wellness and schedule a visit with her here. Learn about Peoples Rx practitioners who are available for consultation both virtually as well as in person here.
*Although licensed in other states, Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in Texas. To support licensure efforts, please visit www.txand.org.