Heart Health and Chef Pete's Personal Heart Story

Taking care of your cardiovascular system should be your top priority when it comes to your health.

There are approximately 2,200 deaths every day caused by cardiovascular disease in the United States (every 40 seconds), and by the year 2030, the number of people dying from this chronic illness will exceed 6 million. That's an alarming figure, especially considering that there are so many dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease that can be proactively managed to reduce its effects.



It is difficult for people to discern what is helpful to their cardiovascular health and what is harmful, because the advice provided by the government and other health sources seems to be contradictory.

In recent years, there has been mounting, overwhelming evidence which suggests that the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that is widely recommended, which is heavy on processed grains and legumes, as well as man-made polyunsaturated fats, may not be the best option.

A Paleo-based lifestyle is in fact heart-healthy, because it emphasizes a variety of vegetables and protective fats such as salmon and sardines, as well as encouraging movement, community, sleep and sunshine in addition to the principles of the Paleo diet and Paleo lifestyle. The results of recent research indicate that saturated fat is not as harmful to the heart as once believed, but rather processed carbohydrates and refined sweeteners are more likely to have an adverse effect on the heart.

There are many factors that are associated with cardiovascular issues that can be eliminated naturally by following a Paleo diet (a diet based on whole, minimally processed foods). It is important to note that even within these guidelines, there are specific foods that can be extremely beneficial for the heart and the cardiovascular system.

Medical establishments are increasingly promoting the use of a Paleo diet to reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, body mass index, waist circumference, and hips/waists. By increasing weight loss, regulating blood sugars, restoring insulin sensitivity, and reducing other risk factors associated with inflammation, the Paleo diet also improves HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and elasticity in your arterial walls. It also reduces other risk factors by decreasing other risk factors.

A Paleo Diet For A Healthy Heart

There are many inflammatory triggers for cardiovascular diseases that are naturally eliminated by a well-formulated Paleo diet (one based on whole, minimally processed foods). There are specific diets and lifestyle modifications within these guidelines that can be more beneficial for your heart and cardiovascular system than other types of diet and lifestyle changes.

Dietary Factors

Omega-3 Rich Foods. 

Omega-3 fats have consistently been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (along with a lower mortality rate due to sudden cardiac arrest). In addition to lowering triglycerides and reducing inflammation, these essential fats also provide important micronutrients that support vascular health. These essential fats have been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in numerous studies.


As a result of fiber consumption, a healthy cardiovascular system is maintained. Fiber consumption is associated with a lower risk of strokes and heart diseases, as well as the reduction of LDL cholesterol, the reduction of blood pressure, and the promotion of healthy weight control.

Saturated Fats.

Despite the fact that animal foods containing high levels of saturated fat have been discredited, eating natural saturated fats (such as those found in pastured animals) has no detrimental effect on your heart health and is not detrimental to it. The presence of certain genetic factors, however, may make some people more susceptible to the effects of saturated fat on the LDL cholesterol levels of some people.

If you want to eat a balanced diet, you should start by choosing fatty cuts of meat, organ meats, and eggs that are high in saturated fat, while also including a variety of monounsaturated fats (avocados, olives, macadamia nuts) and omega-3s.

Lifestyle Factors 

Despite the fact that you eat all the right foods, you may still have high levels of inflammatory markers even if you address certain lifestyle factors.


In addition to higher blood pressure and weight gain, obesity, and a higher rate of heart disease and stroke, sleep deprivation is also associated with higher rates of heart disease and stroke. In addition to doubling the risk of stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure, people who get less than six hours of restorative sleep a night are more likely to suffer from congestive heart failure as well.

Managing stress

Compared to other diet or lifestyle factors, stress is a stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease. You should make a conscious effort to manage existing chronic stress by meditating, walking, journaling, getting time in nature, etc. By reducing the avoidable stressors in your life and reducing chronic stress, you can reduce the amount of stress in your life and manage it. In turn, this will lead to a greater protection against cardiovascular diseases.


As long as you commit to gentle movement throughout the day, you will be able to improve your cardiovascular system's sensitivity to insulin and circulation because even though chronic overtraining can actually damage it by raising cortisol levels and inflammatory markers, frequent gentle movement helps to improve it.


It has been shown that vitamin D deficiency is strongly associated with heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, so make sure to get your daily dose. It doesn’t matter if one gets sun exposure every day or not, it is still possible to protect the cardiovascular system from the harmful effects of vitamin D deficiency by eating vitamin-D-rich foods like fatty fish and egg yolks as well as supplementing when necessary.

Quit Smoking 

I urge you to stop smoking! Smoking is a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease as it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. If you smoke, even the most nutritious Paleo diet and aggressive lifestyle modification will not be able to offset the damage and disease risk created by smoking.


I would like to make a note about cholesterol: your body contains a certain amount of cholesterol, 25 percent of which comes from your food and 75 percent of which comes from your liver. A lot of the cholesterol in food is not absorbed by the body, and how much cholesterol is produced by your body depends on how much you eat; if you eat more, you make less, and vice versa.

There is some evidence to suggest that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of people who consume dietary cholesterol do experience a modest increase in both LDL and HDL, but the ratio does not change or heart disease risk does not increase. Eating cholesterol is not harmful.

As a result, you can eat any part of an egg, including the yolks, which are packed with 13 essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly.

Foods For Heart Health

There are certain foods that are abundant in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that are present in a Paleo diet, as well as others that are devoted to boosting the metabolism and providing your body with a sense of satiety and fulfillment.

The following are some heart-healthy Paleo foods that you can include in your diet:


There is a reason why these fat-filled fruits are already a Paleo favorite. There are numerous vitamins and minerals found in them that can help keep the cardiovascular system strong, including vitamin K (helping to clot blood properly), magnesium (helping to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance and muscle relaxation), and potassium (helping to control blood pressure), which are all found in them. The consumption of avocados on a daily basis may help to maintain a normal level of total cholesterol in the bloodstream.

It is becoming more and more evident that good Paleo fats are beneficial to your health on every level.

Brussels Sprouts

In addition to lowering systemic inflammation and reducing arterial plaque buildup, Brussels sprouts contain substances that improve blood vessel function as well as reducing the buildup of systemic inflammation.


The anthocyanins and flavonoids present in blueberries are antioxidants that can reduce blood pressure and dilate blood vessels that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, because they can help lower blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.


There has been a significant link between the levels of flavonoids in citrus, which have been linked to a lower risk of ischemic stroke resulting from blood clots, as well as the levels of vitamin C, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, such as atherosclerosis. As a result, you can almost quadruple your iron absorption by combining citrus with dark leafy greens.

Dark Chocolate

As explained above, foods like cacao, which are high in flavonols, counteract lipid peroxidation and, as a result, lower blood plasma levels, thereby supporting heart health and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. When choosing a cacao product, ensure that you choose one that is as close as possible to whole food, 100% cacao.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The monounsaturated fats found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil have been found to reduce the levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans as well as lower your risk of heart disease. High quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil may reduce your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. Instead of overrelying on nuts, you should increase your intake of this delicious fat in order to promote heart health.


It is important to keep in mind that wild caught salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and can reduce the risk of irregular heartbeats as well as reduce plaque buildup in the arteries and reduce inflammation. Because of these essential polyunsaturated fats, salmon is a superfood for the cardiovascular system. Whenever you consume salmon on a regular basis, you can help lower your blood pressure, lower your resting heart rate, and improve your cardiovascular health.

You should make sure that it's wild-caught, however, otherwise, you won't be able to realize the full nutritional benefits, as farmed fish contain fewer nutrients and more toxins than wild-caught fish.


There are many benefits to eating this dark, leafy green, which are packed with nutrients like lutein (a carotenoid), as well as B-complex vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber. Lutein has additionally been shown to prevent the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol, a contributing factor to heart disease.

With so much myth and misinformation surrounding heart health, it is clear that it is important to focus on implementing these components as part of your Paleo diet and lifestyle in order to dramatically improve the health of your cardiovascular system and your overall health as a whole

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