The most common killer of Americans is cardiovascular disease, which, according to the American College of Cardiology (ACC), was responsible for 840,768 deaths (635,260 cardiac) in 2016. Every 40 seconds, an American has a heart attack (2). Wow. That is astonishing and shocking.
In my practice, the vast majority of my patients are taking medications for blood pressure. Heart disease is clearly a widespread problem with severe long term consequences. But what can we do about it?
The good news is that cardiovascular disease is preventable through diet! But the sad truth is that the standard American diet is so unhealthful. So much so that our most common killer is a completely preventable disease. Alright let’s start making some changes then! That’s why you’re here, right?
By recommendation from the ACC and countless scientific studies, eating lots of different fruits and veggies and reducing consumption of animal products is the best way to prevent heart disease. But then that raises the question – are some veggies any better than others, specifically for heart disease?
And the answer is yes – nitrate rich vegetables. Beets have been making headlines because of their nitrate content, but the reality is that arugula has much more!
Vegetables rich in nitrate supply the body with dietary nitrate which is an important molecule in the nitric oxide pathway. It has been well documented since the 1980s that nitric oxide is a signaling molecule within blood vessels that is responsible for regulation of blood flow and blood pressure. Nitric oxide is made by the endothelial cells within vessels and is essential for good cardiovascular health (3). The root cause of arterial plaques and atherosclerosis is from damage to the endothelial cells with poor diet being a major contributing factor (4). This damage to endothelial cells is what begins the process of heart disease and is the reason why over 200,000 Americans had bypass surgery last year (5)