5 smart strategies for a healthy endothelium


RGB stock photo-Pita Box 987

RGB stock photo-Pita Box 987

Maintaining a healthy endothelium may indeed be the foundation to keeping your arteries in good shape yet it’s a tactic that’s all too frequently left out of the discussion about heart health.

Here are  5 smart strategies  that may arm your endothelium with weaponry to fight off assaults:

•    Go for healthy fats

Research shows that foods rich in omega-3 fats, both from fish and plant sources offer benefits for the lining of your arteries. In just one of a number of studies, Spanish scientists found that  walnuts, which are the richest of all nuts in their omega-3 content, actually reversed endothelial dysfunction in the participants. They speculate that there may be more than just the omega-3 fats doing the repair work here. Other studies show that extra virgin olive oil, with its rich source of disease-fighting polyphenols, offers perks as well.

Besides high saturated fat foods, steer clear of trans fats from processed foods, such as snack options and baked goods, as they have potential to harm your endothelial function.

•    Brew up a pot of tea

Tea, both black and green varieties, is chock full of flavonoids, which are compounds with a range of disease-fighting effects. And it’s these substances that appear to provide some of the beverage’s heart-healthy perks. Research shows that regular consumption may reverse endothelial dysfunction over the long term. In the short run, drinking a cup of tea after a fatty meal may also offer some advantages for your arteries.

•    Eat in the Mediterranean style

The Mediterranean diet always seems to come up when there’s a discussion of eating patterns that offer a defense against diseases. This includes better endothelial function in many different study groups  including overweight individuals, post-menopausal women and those with elevated blood cholesterol readings. Considering it’s chock full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, it’s hardly surprising.

In case you’re not familiar with it,  it’s based on abundance of  plant foods including fruits, vegetables, spices,  herbs, whole grains, legumes,  nuts and seeds with small servings of meat and other foods high in saturated fat.  Olive oil is the predominate fat.

•    Get your fill of red grapes and berries
Red grapes and products made from them such as red wine and juice along with berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, chokeberries and cranberries, all offer beneficial compounds for maintaining healthy arteries. Maybe it’s another case of the wisdom of the ages – think of cranberries with your turkey dinner.

•    Regular exercise versus sporadic

Yet another reason to keep active. A number of studies have shown that in those who exercise regularly, a higher fat meal is less damaging to the endothelium than in those who are inactive.  Physical activity is also a key component of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

If you have spent the winter hibernating, it’s the perfect time to venture outdoors and get into a walking or cycling routine.

Are there any of the above strategies you can incorporate in your lifestyle?

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Categories: Research Roundup, Superfoods, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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One Comment on “5 smart strategies for a healthy endothelium”

  1. Paula
    April 30, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    Great simple advice -glad to know I am on the right track with my eating!

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