Show some love for your very own heart this Valentine’s Day by including these heart-healthy foods in your diet to support your cardiovascular system.
Diploma student, Melanie Gaylard, shares the recipe she developed for her Heart and Circulatory System model assignment and the ingredients she selected to support heart health.
Mel says: “The Diploma in Applied Nutrition covers a lot of information, delivered in concise chunks that are easy to absorb. The main benefits are from doing the assignments, receiving individual feedback and interacting with other students. Highly recommended!” Follow Melanie at @melsnutritiouskitchen
Salmon is a fantastic source of omega 3 – the all-important fatty acid which reduces inflammation and supports your heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and protect the blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Inflammation can be the first step in the process that later leads to heart attacks so including lots of omega 3 in the diet is extremely beneficial. Omega 3 is also beneficial for the rate and extent to which blood clots.
EPA omega 3 fatty acids are considered the Rolls Royce of natural inflammatory mediators. They are basically the metabolic building block of the body’s own inherent anti-inflammatory chemicals, a group of very powerful compounds called prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins switch inflammation on and enhance pain signalling and muscle contraction (think menstrual or digestive cramps), whereas others reduce inflammation and pain signalling. They require fatty acids for their manufacture, and different fatty acids will deliver a different end product- a different class of prostaglandins known as series 3, which are powerfully anti-inflammatory. By increasing our intake of EPA, we greatly encourage the body to produce series 3 prostaglandins, thus helping manage inflammatory episodes within the body. You’ll find oily fish is the best source for EPA omega 3 fatty acids.
Pomegranate seeds also contain different types of antioxidants and polyphenols. These polyphenols promote cardiovascular health and healthy blood pressure by being taken up by the endothelial cells in the blood vessels; once inside they act as an irritant. When this happens, the endothelial cells begin to secrete higher levels of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide causes the muscle to relax causing the pressure to drop. Consistent regular consumption of polyphenols can have a notable lowering effect upon blood pressure.
Racemofuran, a chemical in asparagus, has been identified as having mild anti-inflammatory activity. When inflammation arises within the endothelium, plaque formation can occur. A plaque is what forms in blood vessel walls during a process called atherosclerosis. Plaque formation involves a series of events and it is important to utilise diet and lifestyle changes in the prevention and management of this condition – so filling your plate with asparagus is a great place to start!
Garlic contains some seriously potent chemical activity. It contains a powerful compound called ajoene, which interacts with something called the platelet aggregation factor, a compound in the body that regulates the rate and extent to which blood clots. Some surgeons and dentists even advise patients against eating garlic a couple of days prior to surgery in case it increases their bleeding. On a day to day basis, it can offer protection against clotting. Helpful against strokes and heart attacks.
Pan Fried Salmon Fillet, Grilled Greens and Cauliflower Puree Recipe
Drizzled with a caper garlic butter and garnished with pomegranate rubies
- half large head of cauliflower
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut milk
- roughly 15 asparagus spears
- 1 large courgette cut into strips
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cultured grass-fed butter
- 2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 2 Scottish salmon fillets
- pomegranate rubies
- fresh dill fronds
- sea salt and pepper
- Separate cauliflower florets and steam till soft. Once cooked drain the cauliflower and place in a blender with salt and pepper adding coconut milk to loosen the puree.
- Place asparagus and courgette onto a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Place the butter, capers, garlic, lemon zest and dill in a pan over low heat. Once the butter has melted stir to combine and set aside.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat. Place salmon skin down and fry for roughly 3 minutes’ till cooked underneath. Turn fish over and cook for a further 30 seconds. This will result in the fish being cooked medium, cook longer for well done.
- Place roughly 175ml cauliflower puree on your dish. Neatly arrange the asparagus and courgette on top of the puree. Place the fish on top and drizzle with the warmed butter sauce. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with pomegranate rubies and dill fronds.