Heart disease is a serious issue that leads to the death of almost 700,000 Americans every single year. The CDC says that around 805,000 people in the US have a heart attack every year, but the most common form of heart disease is actually coronary artery disease.
Your diet is a crucial risk factor when it comes to any type of heart disease. Things like eating a lot of saturated fat and trans fats can lead to higher cholesterol, which can negatively impact the health of your arteries by causing plaque buildup. Having high blood pressure, not getting enough exercise, diabetes, and carrying around extra weight are also leading risk factors of heart disease.
Because diet and lifestyle are so closely linked to heart health, we wanted to learn more about the types of food that are the best for your heart. To do this, we talked with Dr. William Davis, cardiologist and NY Times best-selling author of Super Gut.
While there a plenty of heart-healthy foods to eat, there's one that Dr. Davis doesn't want readers to skip over. "My favorite food for heart health that many people neglect is kimchi, i.e., traditionally fermented cabbage that is popular in Korea, often eaten at every meal."
Continue reading to learn more about how kimchi can help your heart, and for more health tips, check out The Best Eating Habits of the Longest-Living People in the World.
How fermented food can help your heart
People don't often think of fermented foods when they are considering things to eat for their heart, but Dr. Davis believes you may want to start.
"The process of fermentation means that very beneficial microbial species are typically present," he says, "and these microbes generate many benefits for humans when kimchi is consumed. These benefits include reduced blood sugar, reduced insulin resistance, reduced body-wide inflammation, and production of vitamins B1, B2, B7, and B9 (folate)."
In other words, fermented food can help you have a healthy gut microbiota, which can, in turn, can help reduce your risk of things like high blood pressure and chronic inflammation, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
According to Harvard Health, there is an enormous connection between the microbes found in your gut and your cardiovascular system, which means that keeping a healthy gut can help you have a healthy heart, too.
At the end of the day, you can't look to just one type of food to keep your heart healthy. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that a healthy heart comes from eating heart-healthy foods, exercising regularly, managing stress when you can, getting enough good-quality sleep, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, and managing your weight.
So while you can't count on just one food to protect you from heart disease, incorporating kimchi or other fermented food into your diet can help you care for your gut and heart health simultaneously.
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