Nutrition for Heart Health

Food is Medicine

If you would like to tune-up your nutrition game plan. Give our office a call (425) 686-4498 to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can help! 

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Nutrition for Heart Health

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. TCM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. TCM nutrition for hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors, and energetically-cooling foods. Incorporating the right nutrition can spark heart health.

The theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation, coffee acts as a vasodilator increasing circulation but in excess, it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.

Benefits of bitter foods

Foods with bitter flavors include romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, rye. Foods that combine bitter with pungency include citrus peel, radish, scallion, and white pepper. In contrast, the pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm. Foods that combine bitter with sweet include asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa, and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.

Benefits of bitter foods for heart health

Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids. For example, celery contains the phytochemical phthalides which relax arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium, and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance.

Check out our previous post on bitter foods here

What do tomatoes have to do with it?

A tomato a day keeps the doctor away! The combination of lycopene, vitamin C and E, potassium, and folic acid in tomatoes make it a powerful food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes comes from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in the season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or try growing your own.

Nutrition for heart health

Chrysanthemum tea is very popular in Asia; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain, and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!

Why we always say to avoid cold foods…

TCM nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.

Check out this recipe that puts it all together

5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart

15 oz cooked organic chickpeas (1 can)

1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)

4 stalks celery, minced

6-12 cherry tomatoes, chopped in 1/2 or 1/4

8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped

2 TBSP red onion, minced

Toss with a dressing made with:

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)

1 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp honey or agave

1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)

1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)

fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

If you would like to tune-up your nutrition game plan. Give our office a call (425) 686-4498 to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can help!


Sources:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/

Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.

Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York

Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California

Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.

Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.

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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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