Some foods are very important for a healthy heart. All the alliums besides garlic are helpful. Onions, for example, have similar, though weaker, effects on the circulation.
Chives and leeks should not be ignored. Of the other vegetables, radishes, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are useful in detoxifying the liver. The minerals magnesium, potassium, and manganese are of special importance to the heart and circulation.
These can be found in seeds such as sesame and sunflower, molasses, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and parsley, and apple juice or cedar vinegar. Spices and herbs can be very helpful.
For example, ginger stimulates and calms the digestion, and also reduces cholesterol in the blood. All pungent spices, including ginger, cloves, horseradish, and mustard, open the peripheral blood vessels, encourage sweating, and, in moderation, can be helpful to the circulation.
Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, bay, mint, and sage all have useful medicinal effects. They are anti-infective, they are antioxidants that preserve beneficial body fats, and they are helpful for stomach and intestinal problems.
Studies have shown that the oils we eat become an integral part of the membranes of our cells and the lining of our arteries and veins. We have already mentioned the value of minimizing our fat intake. However, it is worth remembering that there are essential oils that can help our circulation and general health and reduce cholesterol.
EPA in fish oil and the oils in some nuts have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Purslane is a salad plant used in Crete, which, like walnuts, has a high level of alpha-linoleic acid, one of the essential oils we need to make hormones and other substances.
The Cretans have one of the lowest levels of heart disease in the world. In the recent study, 606 people who had already suffered heart attack were divided into two groups. Half were put on the traditional Cretan diet, which included rough bread, salads, olive oil, feta cheese, and purslane, and the other half were put on the low-cholesterol diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
Those on the Cretan diet did much better and incurred far fewer subsequent heart attacks than the other group.The experiment was stopped after two years because it was judged unethical to continue to deny the second group the most effective healthy heart dietary recommendations.