A Cardiologist Explains Why Antioxidants are The Key to Your Heart - Men's Health Magazine Australia

A Cardiologist Explains Why Antioxidants are The Key to Your Heart

The role of antioxidants beyond the hype.

Imagine doing something around 115 000 times a day… you’d  be exhausted right? Incredibly, that is how many times our heart beats on average every day to pump over 2,000 gallons of blood through our blood vessels. This blood provides the necessary oxygen and nutrients to all our organs, to work properly and keep up with all our daily routines.

Yet with 1.2 million Australians currently experiencing one or more heart or vascular conditions, and more than 4 million being affected by cardiovascular disease (CVD), it’s become more important than ever to make sure you are doing as much as you can to help your heart work the way it should be.

To find out more, we spoke to leading Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker, who believes that maintaining optimum heart health is linked to knowing why antioxidants are important to our heart.

The role of antioxidants beyond the hype

You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants, but some of us may not necessarily be sure what they do. Essentially, antioxidants help reverse the oxidation process (the process of turning cells into free radicals which in turn can cause inflammation). Inflammation is believed to be a huge contributor to disease, including cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants are nature’s secret ingredient to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs, and a great place to start is including it into your diet.

Sources of antioxidants

Plant foods are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are most abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, wholegrains and some meats, poultry and fish. Antioxidant rich food choices include blueberries, cinnamon and cacao. 

​​Turmeric has also recently become a popular ingredient in the health world, and for good reason – the ancient spice has potent anti-inflammatory effects and many experts believe it can be extremely effective in assisting the reduction of inflammation in the joints. One study conducted in Japan found that curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its distinct yellow colour, significantly improved cardiac health over a three week period and reduced inflammatory lesions in the heart area. 

Dark chocolate contains a significant amount of strong polyphenols which are antioxidants found in certain plant-based foods and are the most abundant antioxidants in our diet and are very beneficial to our health, particularly heart health. 

 Healthdirect.gov.au. 2021. Circulatory system. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/circulatory-system> [Accessed 29 September 2021].

 Australian Government Department of Health. 2021. What we’re doing about cardiovascular conditions. [online] Available at: <https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-cardiovascular-conditions> [Accessed 29 September 2021].

 Heartfoundation.org.au. 2021. Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease | The Heart Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/activities-finding-or-opinion/key-stats-cardiovascular-disease> [Accessed 8 September 2021].

 Mangge, H., Becker, K., Fuchs, D., & Gostner, J. M. (2014). Antioxidants, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. World journal of cardiology, 6(6), 462–477. https://doi.org/10.4330/wjc.v6.i6.462

By Dr Ross Walker

Dr Ross Walker is an eminent practicing Cardiologist with over 40 years of experience as a clinician.

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