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5 Powerful Foods for Cardiovascular and Kidney Health

There is no single tip on nutrition that works for everyone, but the truth is that consuming natural foods, preferably including more vegetables and fruits in the diet, is extremely beneficial for cardiovascular and renal health. As prevention continues to be the best medicine against diseases and disorders in the body, these important allies must be present in the diet, with a healthy diet. “Some foods have the ability to help a lot the functioning of our body, facilitating blood circulation, for example. So, to avoid diseases and have healthy veins and arteries, it is fundamental to include them in the diet”, says vascular surgeon Dr. Aline Lamaita, member of the Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery.

“The same goes for kidney disease. We know that a diet with more fruits and vegetables is associated with a decrease in risk factors related to kidney disease. This happens because there is a greater supply of fiber and antioxidants in the diet. These nutrients help the body against inflammatory components and oxidative stress”, highlights nephrologist Dr. Caroline Reigada, specialist in Internal Medicine by the Irmandade da Santa Casa de Misericórdia de São Paulo and in Nephrology by the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo.

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“People with a history of vascular diseases in their family can, with the help of their doctor, begin preventive treatment aimed at improving their quality of life and reducing the risk of these diseases appearing. And, in addition to physical exercise, good nutrition provides the nutrients needed to improve circulation,” adds Dr. Aline. With the help of experts, we selected 5 powerful foods, ranging from spices to fruits, and can be important allies when included in the eating habit:

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Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) is a rhizomatic plant originating in Asia, used since ancient times to manufacture food and medicine. “Several scientific studies have described the bioactive compounds in ginger, the most important of which is gingerol, whose medicinal properties have already been proven,” explains nuutrologist Dr. Marcella Garcez, director and professor at the Brazilian Association of Nutrology. Potent anti-inflammatory, ginger fights muscle pain, helps against rheumatoid arthritis and circular problems. “Gingerol has a high anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, the condiment has an enzyme that helps dissolve fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting. Fibrin acts in the process of thrombus formation and is also linked to the hardening of varicose veins”, explains Dr. Aline. As it is good for the heart, it also benefits the kidneys, according to nephrologist Dr. Caroline Reigada. “As it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger is important for improving kidney function, repairing the organ’s tissues, preventing inflammation around the kidneys and the formation of kidney stones”, highlights the nephrologist. Ginger can be consumed in food form, approximately 10g of the root added to food and juices, or be ingested in the form of infusion, in powder from 1 to 5g per day, and also in the form of extracts in individualized doses, according to Dr. Marcella.

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Rosemary

Used for centuries to relieve muscle pain, improve immunity and microcirculation, Rosemary is rich in a substance called carnosic acid, which has an important action against free radicals. “In addition, Rosemary has rosmarinic acid, which detoxifies and reduces inflammation. Thus, this spice is an important ally to increase circulation in the small vessels around the muscles and organs”, says Dr. Aline. Because it decreases inflammation and pain, it’s also beneficial for your kidneys, according to Dr. Caroline. In addition to being used as a spice, rosemary has the same benefits in tea form.

Beet

A source of energy, but also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, beetroot is a tuber capable of increasing blood flow in the muscles, also improving muscle contraction. “One of the substances present in beets is nitrate, which is metabolized in the body and turns into nitric oxide, which relaxes the vessels and increases blood flow. This property, according to studies, also improves circulation in the veins and prevents varicose veins”, says Dr. Aline. “In addition to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as betalain, which gives color to the beet, the tuber in the form of juice has among its main features the elevation of serum levels of nitric oxide, resulting in a greater flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, which makes the juice a great choice before the practice of physical activities”, says Dr. Marcella Garcia. An Australian study evaluated that a single glass of beet juice is able to reduce blood pressure in a few hours – and nitrate is responsible for this action of relaxing the vessels and making the blood flow better. “Beetroot juice also helps to increase levels of Superoxide Dismutase (a primary antioxidant enzyme) and Catalase (involved in detoxification processes), reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in kidney tissue,” argues nephrologist Dr. Caroline Reigada.

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Orange

Although we only remember Vitamin C, orange is much more than that and is also composed of folic acid, potassium, magnesium, fiber and flavonoids. “The citrate present in oranges and lemons prevents the formation of crystals in the kidneys. They can be included in the diet as a form of prevention”, suggests Dr. Caroline Reigada. “The components of the orange have an important antioxidant action and are capable of reducing cholesterol. In this case, when we eat the fruit it is even better, as the fibers present in the bagasse act to prevent the deposit of fat in the arteries”, says the vascular surgeon. French researchers from the French Institute of Agricultural Research claim that hesperidin, a fruit flavonoid, favors the inner lining of blood vessels. “It helps with circulation. The potassium present in oranges also has a positive impact on circulation by balancing excess sodium in the diet,” says Dr. Aline. A glass of orange juice a day is enough for these benefits.

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Banana

Because it is rich in potassium, an essential mineral for the stability of heartbeats, and with a low concentration of sodium, banana helps protect the cardiovascular system against changes in blood pressure and heart rate. “Potassium from fruits and vegetables is important to prevent the formation of kidney stones, along with calcium. This is important for prevention, even for patients who have already had kidney stones. Low levels of calcium and potassium in the diet indicate recurrence, that is, the stones reappeared”, highlights Dr. Caroline Reigada. “In addition, this same mineral helps to avoid cramps and muscle pain”, says the nutritionist.

Finally, the nutritionist remembers that, in the same way, we have to be careful with the excess of ultra-processed foods, rich in sugar, sodium and trans fat. “High levels of circulating cholesterol are harmful, since cholesterol is deposited on the walls of blood vessels and impairs blood circulation, cell oxygenation and increases the risk of strokes, in addition to kidney problems”, concludes the nutritionist.

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5 Powerful Foods for Cardiovascular and Kidney Health

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