To wrap up our series on endothelial health, focused on recent research linking COVID-19 infection to significant rises in cardiovascular diseases, and how to limit the risk of developing a CVD after COVID-19 infection, we’re focusing on dietary recommendations for overall endothelial health with the aim of reversing endothelial dysfunction.
Endothelial dysfunction has been proven to play a role in the development and progression of atherosclerosis and may also contribute to type 2 diabetes. Endothelial dysfunction typically precedes cardiovascular diseases by many years, so it’s an excellent place to focus your efforts to reduce your risk factors.
Specific dietary recommendations include:
- Cacao and green tea are good sources of flavan-3-ol (catechins and epigallocatechin gallate) and their link to improvements in endothelial function have been well documented.
- Foods rich in L-arginine, such as dark leafy greens, whole grains, garlic and onions, beets and nuts can boost the production of nitric oxide, believed to help reverse endothelial dysfunction.
- Nut intake has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and walnuts, in particular, due to their antioxidants and α-linolenic acid, are recommended, especially for those with high cholesterol.
- Polyphenol-rich foods boost production of the enzyme that makes nitric oxide. These foods include apples and grapes.
- Anti-inflammatory regimens, such as aspirin or other supplements.
Studies also show avoidance of grains, beans, fruit, poultry and nightshades along with supplement use decreased endothelial dysfunction over time.
If you want to conduct a deep dive into the research on the link between diet and endothelial health, this systematic review includes research from 1990-2012 that you might find a valuable resource.
Finally, although most of the focus on endothelial health has been focused on a pharmacological approach, experts recommend paying more attention to the role of EPCs (endothelial progenitor cells), specifically their mobilization and functional improvement, in the treatment and reversal of endothelial dysfunction.
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