We have all heard the phrase, ‘the way to the heart is through the stomach’, but it is possible that this might not be so far from the truth!
At Broglasco Farm we are all about healthy cooking and a happy heart, so we decided to do a little bit of detective work into this well-known phrase in the approach to St Valentine’s Day.
We have heard a lot of about ‘gut health’ in the media recently and so we checked out some recent research into how the balance of organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses more pleasantly called microbes) that populate our intestinal tracts can impact the health of our heart.
It would seem that Hippocrates, the Greek “Father of Medicine,” might have been onto something when he declared over twenty-five hundred years ago that “all disease begins in the gut.”
Our lifestyle choices and eating habits have changed so much in recent decades that the impact has resulted in changes within our own bodies. Examples include changes to the way that crops are grown and chemically treated, the way that livestock are reared and the use of antibiotics to treat illnesses and disease within the animals, how our foods are treated with additives or chemicals to ensure a longer shelf life, even our increase in consumption of refined carbohydrates and sweeteners in our diets. All of these changes and more can have major implications on the health, growth and production of our normal gut bacteria.
It has been well documented that this good gut bacteria has a major impact of our health, helping with our digestion, creating useful nutrients for our bodies and releasing substances into our systems that have wide-ranging health effects.
According to Dr JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital "There's a complex interplay between the microbes in our intestines and most of the systems in our bodies, including the vascular, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. All of these relationships are highly relevant to cardiovascular health"
One article has highlighted three of the main ways that poor gut health is thought to impact on the cardiovascular system:
Hardening of the arteries:
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and King’s College London found that artery stiffness was higher in women with a lower diversity of healthy gut bacteria and found an overall association between gut microbe diversity and artery health. Poor gut health has been associated with diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory stomach and bowel diseases.
Coronary artery disease:
Gut health also has a role in the build-up of plaque in arteries. A 2017 study found the gut microbiome of individuals with this type of heart disease differed vastly compared to healthy people without the disease.
Heart attack and stroke:
Gut health may also help indicate if a person is at risk for serious cardiovascular events, like a heart attack or stroke.
In a Nutshell:
Our gut acts as a second brain; lined with over 100 million nerve endings and home to approx 100 trillion types of bacteria, this little community – known as the microbiome – influence everything from our moods, our energy levels and even our food cravings.
Even if we have haven’t enjoyed the best of diets up until this point, luckily, this isn’t irreversible and there is much that we can do, in a very short space of time to cultivate a healthy gut and a happy heart.
Below are some of our top tips on how you can achieve just that:
- Eat a wide and varied plant-based diet
- Eat more fibre and whole grain foods
- Avoid highly processed foods and artificial sweeteners
- Eat more probiotic foods, such as live yoghurt and fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir and kombucha
- Increase your intake of foods rich in polyphenols (these are plant compounds digested by gut bacteria and are associated with benefits such as reducing blood pressure and cholesterol) Examples of these types of foods include almonds, blueberries and broccoli as well as in green tea, cocoa and red wine.
- Choose oils low in saturated fats, such as rapeseed oil, which is lower in saturated fat than other commonly used cooking oils and fats (and 50% less than olive oil).
- Only take antibiotics if you REALLY need them as they can kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’. If you do need antibiotics, make sure you eat lots of foods that boost your microbes afterwards.
So, this Valentine’s day, to make sure that the way to a happy heart really is through your stomach, and to help you create a dish that your valentine (and your gut) will love, we have a delicious recipe for you to try:
Herb Crusted Salmon with Garlic Roasted Broccoli
Prep Time 5 mins Cook Time 15 mins
2 salmon fillets (6oz each)
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (or dried, if you have on hand)
1 tablespoon Broighter Gold Lemon Infused Oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic roasted broccoli:
2 heads of broccoli cut into florets
2 tbsp Broighter Gold Garlic Infused Oil
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
Place salmon fillets on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
Top your salmon off with lemon infused oil and dijon mustard and rub into your salmon.
In a small bowl, mix together your flour, parsley, and salt and pepper. Using a spoon, sprinkle this topping over your salmon and then pat onto your salmon.
Move onto the garlic roasted broccoli.
In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with Broighter Gold Garlic Infused Oil, salt, black pepper and chopped garlic. Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Put the salmon and the broccoli trays into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until salmon is cooked and the broccoli is tender and browning at the edges. Once the broccoli is cooked sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using and a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving.