Eating these six foods can not only help to keep your heart healthy but could also improve your athletic performance
With the approach of Valentine’s Day there is no better time to think about keeping your heart healthy. For athletes, a healthy heart is doubly important, as improved blood flow can aid in both performance and recovery. In this post, we take a look at some heart healthy foods that can also boost your athletic performance.
Add some spice
If you like it spicy, you are in luck, research has shown that cayenne and other hot peppers can promote blood flow to tissues, lower blood pressure, and reduce plaque build-up in the arteries. The phytochemical capsaicin, which gives the pepper its spicy flavor, can also stimulate the release of vasodilators – compounds that relax the muscles in blood vessel walls and allow blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries. Improved blood flow can lead to both improved performance and a healthier heart.
The fruit of love
In ancient Greek legends, the very first pomegranate tree was planted by Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and the fruit has been a symbol of temptation, fertility, and sex ever since. The ruby-red fruits are also a source of polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are potent vasodilators. A 2014 study found that eating or drinking pomegranate before working out can increased blood flow, blood vessel diameter and exercise performance while also reducing muscle soreness and inflammation.
Blood oranges for the blood
Being hot-blooded is not just for Valentine’s Day either. In one study, people who drank 500ml of blood orange juice every day for a week had improvements in artery dilation and large reductions in signs of inflammation. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids, which may decrease inflammation, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow.
For your heart, not your breath
Garlic may be one of the last things you want to eat on a romantic date, but it may be one of the first things you want to keep your heart healthy. The sulfur compounds in garlic can increase tissue blood flow and lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels. / People with coronary artery disease who take garlic powder tablets could improve their blood flow by as much as a 50 percent.
Fishing for love
If you want a healthy heart and better performance, it may pay to get hooked on fish – especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. These fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds improve circulation by promoting the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow. Omega-3 fats also help to prevent blood clot formation. What’s more, fish oil supplements have been linked to reduced high blood pressure and improved blood flow in skeletal muscle during and after exercise.
Berry much in love
Strawberries and whip cream are popular on Valentine’s, but you may want to consider eating berries even more often. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who ate blueberries and strawberries at least three times a week were less likely to suffer from a heart attack. These berries are particularly rich in chemical compounds called anthocyanins which can lower blood pressure, and make blood vessels more elastic.