Maintaining a healthy heart is essential for lengthening your life span. Otherwise, nasty processes like "atherosclerosis" can occur, which is a thickening or hardening of the arteries. So as to avoid this from escalating and leading to a potential heart attack or stroke, research has identified two fruits that may help to combat this.
Foods that already have a good reputation for improving heart health are those rich in omega-3, such as fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and plant oils. You can even source this fatty acid in tablet form, by taking one of the best fish oil supplements.
However, this isn't the only way you can support your heart through your diet. In a study published in the Food & Function (opens in new tab) journal, scientists revealed that consuming a half glass of pomegranate juice and a handful of dates (plus blended date pips if you really want to go all out) can provide maximum protection against atherosclerosis.
The research team had previously identified the risk factors associated with the development of atherosclerosis. This included cholesterol oxidation, a process that leads to the accumulation of lipids (molecules that impact the body and diet) in the arterial wall. Fortunately, natural antioxidants can slow this down, and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Professor Michael Aviram from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and his research team have spent a quarter of a decade trying to identify and research those exact antioxidants in order to help people keep 'plaque build-up at bay' and it seems these two fruits originating from the Middle East could be key.
Already in the know that both pomegranate and dates offer individual antioxidant benefits, the researchers wanted to find out if including a mix of the two fruits into your diet could prove more beneficial than just consuming one over the other.
Pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenolic antioxidants (derived from plants) and has been shown to most significantly reduce oxidative stress. Meanwhile, dates are rich sources of antioxidants that stimulate the removal of cholesterol from lipid-laden arterial cells.
The scientists discovered that a cocktail of pomegranate juice, dates, and blended date pits offered 'maximum protection against the development of atherosclerosis because the combination reduced oxidative stress in the arterial wall by 33% and decreased arterial cholesterol content by 28%.'
According to the study conclusion, a combination of half a glass of pomegranate juice (4 ounces), together with three dates is the optimal prescription. For extra support, they recommend blending the pits into a paste to be eaten as well. This is an added effort but something that can be made easier using some of the best blenders.
While you're paying attention to your diet and its impact on your heart health, remember to incorporate daily exercise into your routine. Regular movement, such as getting your steps in on one of the best treadmills, is a great way to get your heart pumping out more blood, helping it to function more efficiently.
Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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