Heart-healthy foods that benefit other conditions, too


| By Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Download as PDF

This article originally appeared on Dr. Sinatra’s website.


Discover the heart-healthy foods that benefit your entire body, from your digestion to your immune system.

As you know, eating the right heart-healthy foods can have a positive impact on your ability to maintain optimal heart health. For example, asparagus helps to prevent damaging oxidation that can lead to clogged arteries, blueberries reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, wild salmon soothes inflammation in the blood vessels—and the list goes on from there.

ts_fruitheart_sm2But what many people don’t realize is that the right heart-healthy foods can have a positive effect on other conditions as well, boosting your immune system, promoting healthy digestion and regularity, improving your memory, and more.

My son Dr. Drew Sinatra, a naturopathic doctor, has a lot of experience with healing foods—and often “prescribes” foods as part of his healing modalities. So I asked him to put together a list of the top heart-healthy healing foods that can benefit other conditions as well.

Heart-Healthy Foods To Support Bones and Joints:

  • Ginger is one of my top-recommended foods for heart health because it helps to prevent blood clots. Studies have also shown that ginger works as an anti-inflammatory, helping to protect against chronic inflammation that can lead to osteoporosis. Just one word of caution. Since ginger can thin the blood much like aspirin, patients taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix—as well as daily aspirin– should consult with their doctors before adding ginger to their diets.
  • Tomato juice benefits the heart by reducing LDL cholesterol oxidation, and it boosts bone health too. That’s because tomatoes contain lycopene which has an antioxidant effect, decreasing oxidative stress on the bones and bone resorption—which helps to prevent brittle bones and osteoporosis. Just make sure you get tomato juice in glass bottles, not cans.
  • Omega-3 rich foods, such as wild caught salmon and flaxseeds, not only support the heart, they also help to reduce the inflammation that leads to joint pain.
  • Bone broth, made from pasture-raised beef bones, provides hyaluronic acid and protein and minerals to help maintain strong bones and healthy joints.

Heart-Healthy Foods To Promote Digestive Health and Regularity:

  • Ginger, including fresh chopped ginger root, and ginger tea, soothes digestion.
  • Dandelion greens, which you can add to salads or use in juicing, have a bitter quality that stimulates digestion.
  • Chamomile tea aids digestion and eases gas, bloating, and cramps.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh provide probiotics that aid digestion.
  • Fennel and fennel seeds ease heartburn and intestinal gas.
  • Jerusalem artichoke contains inulin which is a prebiotic that aids digestion, plus it contains fiber for regularity.

Heart-Healthy Foods For Better Memory and Cognition:

  • Foods high in omega-3s, like wild caught salmon and DHA enriched eggs, help to support cognitive health and memory function.
  • Flavonoid-rich fruits, like wild blueberries and tart cherries, contain anthocyanins that support brain health.
  • Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound from the bright yellow spice turmeric, supports healthy brain function.
  • Coconut oil is one of my top-recommended oils for heart health because it contains medium chain triglycerides that help to raise beneficial HDL levels, and makes blood platelets less sticky. Plus, it boosts cognitive function and memory, and may even help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Heart-Healthy Foods To Prevent Cancer:

  • Cruciferous vegetables—like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts—contain phytonutrients that help protect against cell damage from free radical stress which can lead to cancer. Animal studies have also shown that these vegetables contain indole-3-carbinole and sulforaphane which have been shown in animal studies to help prevent tumors.
  • Turmeric, the bright yellow spice, boosts heart health by supporting healthy blood pressure and preventing “sticky” blood. Plus, clinical studies have shown it helps to inhibit cancer growth.
  • Winter squash, particularly the bright yellow varieties, contains beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that helps to prevent cell damage. Beta-carotene is also converted to vitamin A in your body, which helps to promote normal cell growth.
  • Berries contain antioxidant polyphenols that help to protect against cancer.

Heart-Healthy Foods For Immune System Support:

  • Vitamin C rich foods, such as bell peppers and citrus fruits, help to prevent coronary artery disease and strengthen the blood vessel walls. Plus, the antioxidant properties in vitamin C help to support immune system cells.
  • Adaptogens like astragalus, aloe, shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain phytonutrient chemicals which help protect the body from stress.
  • Chicken soup, made with free range chicken, contains a powerful antioxidant called N-acetyl cysteine that strengthens immunity.

Recommended Articles

Facebook Twitter YouTube RSS Stitcher Apple Podcasts