Until the revolutionary work of cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish, it was thought that once the heart was hurt, it remained damaged goods for life. The Diet Channel reports that since Ornish published a number of research studies in the 1980s showing that a healthy diet, when combined with stress reduction and exercise, could actually reverse damage to the heart, it's become understood that certain foods can heal the heart.
Salmon and other fatty fish contain high levels of two particular types of omega-3 fats: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). According to the University of Maryland Medical center, omega-3 fats not only reduce heart disease risk, but can benefit those who already have heart disease.
Because omega-3 fats boost overall artery health, they may be able to partially reverse damage to the heart. Cornell University's website adds that omega-3s are a must for people who have already have damaged hearts following a heart attack. They claim that any concerns about pollutants in fish are greatly outweighed by the benefits to a damaged heart.
Broccoli can provide a number of benefits to the heart. First, it's rich in antioxidants that can protect vulnerable arteries from damage caused from free radicals, which are deformed molecules that travel around the body wreaking havoc on healthy cells. Second, broccoli contains high levels of a special compound known as sulforaphane. Sulforaphane, according to PhysOrg.com, turns on an important enzyme that helps damaged arteries in the heart heal. Broccoli can be included in your heart healing diet as part of salads, stir-fries or as a crunchy snack. To maintain broccoli's heart healthy benefits, limit the amount of oil and salt you use while preparing it.
Almonds and other nuts are bursting with heart healthy nutrients, Mayo Clinic reports. Unlike other sources of fat like butter, almonds are rich in monounsaturated fat, which reduces chronic inflammation and boosts overall heart health. Almonds also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber which can decrease the "bad" LDL cholesterol that often gets lodged in damaged arteries.
Most important for heart healing is the fact that almonds are loaded with L-arginine, a that makes arteries more flexible and resistant to dangerous clots. L-arginine is converted to the neurotransmitter nitrous oxide (NO), which stimulates arteries to expand and relax. Almonds that are natural and low in added salt or oils are the heart healthiest.
- Diet Channel: Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery
- Cornell: Stick to wild salmon unless heart disease is a risk factor, risk/benefit analysis of farmed and wild fish shows
- UMMC: DHA
- PhysOrg: Research reveals a broccoli boost for arteries
- Mayo Clinic: Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health