Despite the advances in diagnosing and treating heart disease, it continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Smoking, stress, unhealthy eating and other lifestyle choices, along with medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity all contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Try as we may, we can't get this silent killer off our back. Luckily, the more we know, the better equipped we are to take control of our health and prevent and even reverse the damage that so often goes unseen.
What's the real cause of our troubles? Oxidation. Scientists know that oxidative damage is the major cause of most illness in the West. Reactions in our bodies with free radicals lead to oxidation, which can result in major organ damage, cancer development and age-related health complications, among other illnesses, over time. Just as oxygen can cause metals to rust and corrode, it can pull electrons from our bodies and render them useless. Similarly, free radicals can strip our bodies of these electrons, starting chain reactions of oxidative damage. Things like stress, processed foods and environmental toxins can introduce free radicals into our bodies, setting the stage for a lifetime of medical complications.
What can we do?
You've heard the buzz word. It's all about antioxidants! Yes, eating a healthy diet full of fiber and antioxidants - also known as vitamins, phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids and more - can help promote the growth of necessary microbes and support healthy aging.
Antioxidants, in a nutshell, block those harmful oxidative reactions. They remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents from our bodies, protecting cell membranes and other cell parts and keeping our bodies clean, lean and strong, like a heart disease-fighting machine!
Super foods and the future of cardiovascular health
Super foods are the key to getting antioxidants in high concentrations into your body. Fruits and vegetables are the place to start; if you aren't eating (or Blasting!) at least your 5 a day, you need to start. But the foods really high in these disease-fighting antioxidants specifically include berries, concord grapes, pomegranates and other red and purple fruits.
Their deep red color denotes high traces of lycopene and anthocyanins, the major heart disease and age-fighting antioxidants.
...And don't forget whole foods! A diet rich in raw, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will encourage a well-rounded internal eco-system for your body to thrive. Ditch the processed foods and reach for antioxidant-rich whole foods, instead!