As American Heart Month winds down, it’s a great time to remind patients and clients of the precautionary measures that can be taken year-round to prevent heart disease and improve one’s overall health. Beyond cutting back on sodium and unhealthy fats, a heart-healthy diet is also about incorporating foods that are rich in nutrients, offering a variety of health benefits.
Today’s post focuses on Vitamin E, a nutrient with beneficial antioxidant properties that may be important to heart health (1). In addition to being associated with lower rates of heart disease, Vitamin E is also involved in immune function and has been linked with prevention of some cancers, reduction of age-related eye disorders (i.e. macular degeneration, cataracts) and slowing cognitive decline/dementia (2).
Evidence that vitamin E could help prevent or delay coronary heart disease (CHD) comes from several sources – in vitro studies have found that the nutrient inhibits oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a crucial initiating step for atherosclerosis (3). Vitamin E might also help prevent the formation of blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or venous thromboembolism (3).
Recently, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of Vitamin E supplementation, particularly in high doses (4). The best way to get all the health benefits of vitamin E is to include natural foods sources of Vitamin E in the diet. The adult RDA for Vitamin E is 15mg – which can easily be achieved through diet alone (2). The top sources of Vitamin E include nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables and whole grains. Eggs also contain Vitamin E (0.5mg per large egg) in addition to 13 other essential vitamins and minerals.
The easy recipe below is a good example of a vitamin E-rich salad combining leafy greens, tomatoes and eggs to deliver a heart-healthy, nutrient-rich meal.
Makes 4 Servings
- 1 Package (7 to 9 ounces) baby lettuce mix
- 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
- 4 Hard-boiled eggs cut into wedges
- ½ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- Divide lettuce evenly among 4 serving plates
- Top each with 1 sliced tomato and 4 egg wedges
- Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese
Calories: 141, Total Fat: 8g, Saturated fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1g, Monounsaturated fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 194mg, Sodium: 157mg, Carbohydrates: 6g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Protein: 12g, Vitamin A: 877.7IU, Vitamin D: 43.5IU, Folate: 31.3mcg, Calcium: 132.5mg, Iron: 1mg, Choline: 116.8mg
(1) Verhagen H, Buijsse B, Jansen E, Bueno-de-Mesquita B. The state of antioxidant affairs. Nutr Today 2006;41:244-50.
(2) Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E. Retrieved from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
(3) National Academy Press. Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids.Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9810.
(4) Mayo Clinic. Vitamin E. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-e/NS_patient-vitamine