Minerals in foods for cardiovascular health

Currently, the diet that predominates in the world is the western one, which is characterized by a high consumption of saturated fats, sodium and sugar. In turn, it has deficiencies in minerals that maintain the body's balance, since the consumption of vegetables, fruits and seeds is insufficient to cover with the recommended daily intake. Why are minerals important in foods for cardiovascular health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. For the effective prevention and timely treatment of these disorders, the implementation of a healthy diet is recommended in conjunction with the usual practice of physical activity as an adjunctive treatment to the pharmacological.

What are cardiovascular diseases?

They are a group of disorders that include heart disorders, vascular brain diseases and blood vessel diseases. Each year 17.1 million people die in the world because of these conditions.

In Spain, cardiovascular diseases represent an annual cost of 9,000 million euros for their care, figure reported by the Spanish Heart Foundation. According to WHO, 80% of deaths attributable to these diseases could have been avoided following a healthy lifestyle and reducing risk factors.

Discover: 10 habits that benefit your heart and brain

Main risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease

Excessive consumption of fats, refined flours and sugar sources is related to the appearance of cardiovascular disorders.

Bad eating habits in conjunction with harmful health habits they correlate directly with the development of atherosclerosis. This disease is characterized by the formation of a lipid or fat plaque in the blood vessels, preventing its proper functioning.

Among the factors that promote the development of an atherosclerotic process are:

  • Behavioral risk factors: smoking habit, sedentary lifestyle, diet high in salt, fat and energy, as well as alcoholism.
  • Metabolic risk factors: arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, overweight and obesity

Metabolic diseases are closely related to behavioral risk factors. The western diet is associated with the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue in the body, reflected in the increase in the body weight of individuals.

Overweight and obesity are conditions that cause alterations in the functioning of the organs, triggering diseases such as diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension and dyslipidemias.

Carrying out a healthy lifestyle represents changes in eating habits and exercise practice. There are specific nutritional recommendations to regulate metabolic disorders, as well as meal plans that control numerous risk factors and exert a cardioprotective effect. Among them, the best known is the Dietary Approach to Control Hypertension (DASH diet).

DASH diet: minerals in foods with vascular activity

The DASH diet is a eating pattern that was created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). It is characterized by:

  • A large consumption of vegetables and fruits.
  • Replacing flour refined by whole grains.
  • Moderate contribution of fats and food of animal origin.
  • Occasional or no consumption of products with high sugar content.

This diet effectively modulates the main metabolic factors associated with the development of a cardiovascular event. Numerous meta analyzes, according to Chiavaroli L et al in 2019, show that the consumption of this diet decreases the incidence of a cardiovascular event, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, glycosylated hemoglobin, fasting plasma insulin and body weight in clinical trials.

The beneficial effects attributable to the DASH diet are related to the biological effect that others have nutritional components within food, as are flavonoids, which have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, as well as minerals in foods with activity in the blood vessels.

Don't stop reading: DASH diet for hypertension

What are the main minerals in food to preserve cardiovascular health?

Foods rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium can contribute to maintaining good cardiovascular health.

As we can see there are many nutrients that have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. But nevertheless, we will focus this section on minerals in food which, as a study published in Current Hypertension Reports, are beneficial.

Potassium

It interacts with the renin-angiotensin system by altering the plasma activity of the retina, thus avoiding the increase in blood pressure figures. It also participates in the renal excretion of sodium, so the markers of endothelial dysfunction are reduced.

  • Food Sources: Spinach, tomato, zucchini, mushrooms, bananas, nuts, avocado and chia seeds.

Magnesium

It acts as an inhibitor of vascular smooth muscle contraction, exerting a vasodilator effect so that the blood flows at lower pressure through the veins and arteries.

  • Food Sources: Nuts, bitter chocolate (70% cocoa) and whole grains.

Calcium

It has an effect similar to the family of antihypertensive drugs known as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACEI) inhibitors, inhibiting vascular contraction. Likewise, collaborates with potassium for renal sodium excretion.

  • Food Sources: Skim milk, sardines, almonds and chickpeas.

The consumption of a varied diet, rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, with moderate contribution of low-fat animal foods, cover the requirements of cardioprotective minerals, as well as other nutritional components that will keep the body functioning optimally.

It will also control metabolic risk factors that are associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.

Finally…

It is important to see a nutritionist to carry out an appropriate nutritional assessment and diagnosis in order to get an individualized meal plan that meets the needs of each person and helps improve health.