As Naturopathic Physicians, our goal is to provide our patients with everything their bodies need for optimal function. The following are some general guidelines on cardiovascular health, specifically as it relates to those with heart failure.
Note: It is important that you do not undertake any of the recommendations below without the consent of your physician. In addition, please note that these recommendations are not individualized for you, and your physician will work with you to optimize your individual care plan.
Create a Healthy heart By Adding More Whole Grains, Vegetables, Protein and Healthy Oils like EVOO to your diet
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to provide a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular related factors including lipid levels, insulin resistance, hypertension, and obesity.[i]
This is a mostly plant-based diet which is high in fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. There is particular emphasis on monounsaturated fats including olive oil and foods high in EPA/DHA Omega 3s, mostly from fish. Some specific suggestions include:
Whole Grains: Carbohydrates should be eaten only in the complex form (as opposed to “simple” carbs). Examples are whole oats, Brown rice, millet, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, amaranth, whole wheat, spelt, kamut and teff.
Vegetables: These can be consumed in an unlimited amount, with special attention paid to dark leafy green vegetables. Strive to consume abundant amounts of dark leafy green vegetables, and at least one type of orange, yellow, and red vegetable/fruit per day.
Protein: Fish (salmon, cod, trout, tuna, mackerel, ahi, etc.) is consumed regularly (daily), and poultry/eggs are consumed in moderate amounts. Limit consumption of tuna to 1-2 times per week due to mercury content. Fresh salmon is an especially good source of healthy oil called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Limit consumption of red meat to several times per month. In addition, limit intake of saturated fat to 5% of daily calories.
Oils: Olive oil is the principal source of fat, and can be added to salads. Aim to consume expeller pressed or cold pressed organic Extra Virgin Olive in its raw form. For cooking purposes, regular olive oil should be used because it has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil.
Additional dietary recommendations:
Aim to limit salt intake to 1800mg/day
Discuss how much water you should be consuming with your physician
Avoid alcohol and non-prescription drugs
Utilizing Supplements and Herbs can boost your heart health
CoQ10: This is an essential nutrient for the health of your heart muscle, as it plays a vital role in energy production in your mitochondria. It is also a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger.[ii]
Taurine: This amino acid helps to protect the heart and to improve the symptoms related to heart failure.[iii]
Propionyl-L-carnitine: This nutrient is cardioprotective, vasodilatory, lipid lowering, and improves energy production of the heart.[iv]
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha): This herb relaxes blood vessels, increases the strength of the heart muscle, and controls heart rate.[v]
Exercising 3-5 times per week for 30 Minutes is beneficial for your heart
Make sure that you have undergone an evaluation by your cardiologist regarding your exercise program. Once you have been cleared for exercise, you should aim to exercise 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. Make sure that you warm up for 5-10 minutes before exercising, followed by 20 minutes of exercise, and ending with 5-10 minutes of a cool down. Walking for 40 minutes per day also has benefits for your heart and overall health.[vi]
Try Reducing Stress with Meditation
Transcendental Meditation has been shown to improve quality of life and functional capacity in African American patients with New York Heart Association Class II or III heart failure and ejection fraction of less than 40%.[vii]
Physical and mental stress is positively correlated with increased cardiac demand, and meditation provides a useful tool to reduce stress. Consider adding meditation or other forms of relaxation to your daily routine to minimize stress. Meditation is the practice of contemplation or reflection in a relaxing environment with focus on deep breathing. Research has shown that meditation programs may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce heart attack risk.
[i]Sanchez-Tainta A, Estruch R, Bullo M, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet and reduced prevalence of clustered cardiovascular risk factor in a cohor of 3,204 high-risk patients. Eur J Cardiovac Prev Rehabil. 2008 Oct; 15(5): 589-93
[i]Estruch R, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Corella D et al. Effects of a Mediterranean-style diet on cardiovascular risk factors: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Jul 4;145(1)1-11.
[i]Salas-Salvado J, Garcia-Arellano A, Estruch R, et al. Components of the Mediterranean-type foot pattern and serum inflammatory markers among patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 May; 62(5):651-9
[ii]Mortensen SA, Rosenfeldt F, Kumar A. The Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Morbidity and Mortality in Chronic Heart Failure: Results From Q-SYMBIO: A Randomized Double-Blind Trial. JACC Heart Failure.2014; S2213-1779.
[iii]Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N, et al. Double-blind randomized cross-over trial in taurine in congestive heart failure. Curr Ther Res 1983;34:543-57.
[iv]Leibovitz B. Nutritional treatment of heart disease: CCME J Optum Nutr 1994;3:115-18.
[iv]Pauly DF, Pepine CJ. The role of Carnitine in myocardial dysfunction. Am J Kidney Dis 2003; 41: S35-S43.
[v]Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. The Cochrane Library: Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. 2008, Issue 1
[vi]Taylor RS, Sagar VA, Davies EJ, et al. The Cochrane Library: Exercise-based rehabilitation for heart failure (review). 2014; Issue 4.
[vii]Jayadevappa R, Johnson JC, Bloom BS, et al. Effectiveness of transcendental meditation on functional capacity and quality of life of African Americans with congestive heart failure: a randomized control study. Ethn Dis 2007;17:72-7.