Of course, the red wine we looked at last time is hardly the only source of heart-healthy antioxidants – nor are antioxidants the only kind of nutrient that supports heart health.

No doubt, you’ve probably come across many a list of foods purported to keep cardiovascular disease at bay. A recent post over at Medical News Today is typical and includes

  • Asparagus
  • Legumes
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Chia and flax seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Fatty fish
  • Green tea
  • Nuts
  • Liver
  • Oatmeal
  • Red wine (“sort of”)
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Vegetables

But the trouble with such lists is that they can often give the impression that just adding those foods and beverages is sufficient to keep your heart working as it should. Sometimes, it’s almost as if foods are treated as drugs; as if eating more chickpeas, say, could do the same basic work as Lipitor. After all, scientific studies like this one have shown an association between eating more legumes and better lipid profiles.

foodBut association doesn’t tell us about cause and effect.

More, we don’t usually eat single foods; we eat dishes and meals that combine all sorts of foods. It’s incredibly hard to determine with any accuracy which one food might be responsible for any given effects – or whether it’s the food at all.

Nor are food’s effects immediate. The consequences of diet can take years, even decades, to develop.

Obviously, nutrition matters. Just as a car designed to run on gasoline won’t run as it should if it’s filled with diesel, so the human body won’t run as it should when filled with relentlessly engineered food-like products instead of the wholesome, natural, nutrient-dense food we were designed to eat.

But it’s the whole diet that matters, not the presence of this food or that.

Even then, diet is just one of many factors that drive health and illness. Sleep, exercise, stress, our connections with others, our exposure to toxins, both natural and human-made – all these and more work together to determine your state of health.

And when health is compromised, you can have the “healthiest” diet in the world, yet your body may not be able to make the best use of its nutrients. The trouble may be genetic. It may be toxicity. It may be something wholly other.

That’s why we need to search out the root causes of any health problems and address those in tandem with developing a personalized nutrition plan that can help you achieve your desired level of wellness, whether that’s healing from a chronic condition or striving to be as healthy as humanly possible.


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