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Heart & nutrition: 7 products for the heart

The beating center in the body: our heart. A powerful muscle that works incredibly hard for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Blood races through your veins, carrying necessary oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body. Beat, beat, beat, beat. Where is your heart actually located and how does it work? And what foods are good for the heart?

We give little thought to how extraordinary it actually is that your heart keeps beating uninterruptedly. You do not control this yourself but it is (fortunately) automatic. Read on quickly to learn all about the heart.

Where is your heart?

Have you ever wondered which side your heart is on? Here comes your definitive answer so you never have to ask yourself this again. The heart is located in the chest, left of center, between the sternum at the front and the spine at the back. When we talk about where the heart is located, we usually mean from the perspective of the person being described. So, if you look at your own chest, the heart is on the left side.

Anatomy heart

The heart, a muscular organ in the chest, consists of four chambers: two atria (right and left) and two ventricles (right and left). In general, an adult's heart is about the size of a clenched fist. The weight of the heart usually varies between 250 and 350 grams. Did you know that women's hearts are generally slightly smaller than men's?

How the heart works: more about the aorta and circulatory system

Oxygen-poor blood enters the right atrium from the body and is pumped to the lungs to take up oxygen. After absorbing oxygen, oxygen-rich blood flows into the left atrium. From the left atrium, the blood is pumped to the left ventricle. Then it is passed through the aorta, the largest artery in our body, throughout the body to supply organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. The valves in the heart make sure the blood goes in the right direction. The coronary arteries supply the heart itself with oxygen. In short, the heart receives, pumps and distributes blood throughout the body, with the aorta as the main artery that carries oxygenated blood throughout the body. In this way, the blood supplies the cells with oxygen and nutrients while simultaneously removing waste products.

Systole and diastole: what are they?

In addition, the heart beats automatically without you having to consciously control it, thanks to the autonomic nervous system. This is done by an internal pacemaker called the sinus node. This sinus node generates electrical signals and makes the heart beat rhythmically. 

The cardiac cycle includes two main phases: systole and diastole. During systole, the heart contracts to pump blood into the arteries. This is known as the heartbeat. During diastole, the heart relaxes to allow blood to flow back and fill the chambers for the next heartbeat. In summary, systole is when the heart contracts, and diastole is when it relaxes. These cycles ensure that blood circulates efficiently through the body.

How many liters of blood does a human being have?

An average adult human being has about 4.5 to 6 liters of blood. The exact blood volume can vary and depends on factors such as age, gender and body weight. Blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma which can flow through our blood vessels.

Blood vessels have a smooth interior, through which blood can flow without difficulty. Smoking and unhealthy foods can damage the walls. To repair this damage, platelets clump together, but other substances can also stick to them. This causes the blood vessels to narrow and may even clog.

How can you take care of your heart and blood vessels?

Your age, gender and hereditary factors are beyond your control. Fortunately, you do have influence on the following points that will help you take good care of your heart and blood vessels:

  • Exercise: At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity per week.
  • Relaxation: Find activities that reduce stress, such as meditation, yoga or walking.
  • Sleep: Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Don't smoke and drink in moderation: Quitting smoking is one of the best steps you can take for your heart. If you drink, do it in moderation.

Nutritious diet: Choose proteins, whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits. Limit intake of saturated fats and added sugars.

7x nutrition for the heart

  1. Products high in antioxidants

Foods such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates, broccoli, grapes, and tomatoes. They contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and protect against free radicals.

2. Healthy oils

Consider olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and chia seeds. These products are rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids for cholesterol and cardiovascular support. Extra virgin olive oil provides vitamin E and healthy polyphenols in addition to great taste. These antioxidants play a protective role for blood vessels. (1,2) 

3. Nuts and seeds

For example, almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. These contain unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are good for cholesterol levels. Walnuts specifically are rich in the healthy omega-3 fatty acid ALA and contain many antioxidants.(3,4)

4. Oily fish

The most oily fish are salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, tuna, sardines, and anchovies. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that are good for the heart, blood pressure, and help maintain normal blood fat levels.(5,6,7,8)

Don't eat or like fish? Then check out our blog with all the omega 3 supplements listed so you can make the right choice. 

5. Herbs

Use more spices such as turmeric (curcumin), oregano, rosemary, garlic, ginger, basil, and cinnamon. These spices contain antioxidant properties for the heart.(9,10,11,12,13,14,15)

6. Tea

Consider green tea (16), black tea, white tea, chamomile tea, and rooibos tea.(17,18) Green tea in particular contains many antioxidants such as catechins and polyphenols for your cholesterol and blood pressure.

7. Dark chocolate (>70% dark)

Take dark chocolate in moderation with at least 70% cacao, cacao nibs and cacao powder. Dark chocolate is full of polyphenols, antioxidants that protect cells and are good for our blood vessels. (19,20,21,22)

In conclusion

Your heart is the beating muscle that keeps you alive. This organ works long hours and takes care of you. Therefore, it is good to give your heart the support it needs. You may want to make some lifestyle adjustments or make some changes in your diet. There are all kinds of things that will make your heart happy, literally and figuratively. Let's start with dark chocolate, shall we?

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