Julie Wendt | Feb 22, 2021

5 Foods for a Healthy Heart

What does your ear lobe tell you about your cardiovascular health?

The strange thing about cardiovascular disease is that it’s a “silent” disease by which I mean that you can’t tell, without blood work, that your heart and blood vessels are not doing well. It’s not until the disease process has been present for many years that we feel the acute symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as a stroke or heart attack. We don’t get a lot of reminders from our bodies that our heart and blood vessels are not doing well. Well, except for this one little hint- your ear lobes. In a 2014 meta-analysis that looked at the pooled results from more than 31,000 subjects, the risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) was 3.3 times higher than those with an ear lobe crease (ELC) (Lucenteforte, et al, 2014). Lucenteforte, et al further reported that “62% of patients with CAD have ELC, while 67% of those without CAD would not have any ELC” (2014). When you consider this against the fact that over 50% of people admitted to the hospital with a heart attack had healthy cholesterol levels, the ear lobe crease may be a more reliable marker for cardiac health than the much-beloved total cholesterol!

We don’t have a complete understanding of how this works but a reasonable hypothesis is that the damage to blood vessels that impact the heart is also present in the vessels that are supplying in the ear lobe. When you see the outward signs of inflammation such as an ear lobe crease (this would be in the place where most ear piercings would reside), there is a good chance that the rest of your blood vessels are experiencing oxidative stress which leads to the cardiovascular diseases that plagues this country.

Here’s my top 5 foods to focus on to support a healthy heart and avoid that ear lobe crease:

1. Avocados: full of fiber, healthy plant oils, magnesium and potassium, you can’t go wrong with making sure avocados are part of your weekly meal plan.

Tips: ripen on the counter and when they yield slightly to pressure, pop them in the fridge to prevent them from over-ripening
Best look: on whole-grain toast with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper

2. Leafy Greens: Folate, K, and vitamin C are key to helping your heart thrive. Make sure you are eating a big salad every day.

Tips: An easy way to improve your diet, explore a different type of leafy green each week
Best look: Toss a few handfuls into a bowl, add dried cherries and chopped apple, top with your favorite olive oil and a squeeze of lemon

3. Berries: High in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, these colorful fruits are low in sugar and high in flavor.

Tips: During winter months, go for the cost-effective frozen berries, their nutrient value is likely higher than what you find in the off season where the fruit is picked before it’s ripe and shipped
Best look: Added to a steamy bowl of hot oatmeal with walnuts and a touch of maple syrup and cinnamon

4. Dark Chocolate: Good for the heart and soul, chocolate is high in antioxidants and full of magnesium.

Tips: The magic happens when cacao is over 70% which also means the sugar content is lower
Best look: Snuggled into a bar with tart cherries and almonds, sweetened with monk fruit

5. Wild-Caught Fish: Best source of bio-available anti-inflammation Omega 3 fats, enjoy 2 servings a week for optimal heart health.

Tips: SMASH (Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, Herring) helps you remember the fatty fish you are looking for
Best look: A simple oven bake with salt, pepper, and olive oil

Ear lobe crease as a marker of coronary artery disease: A meta-analysis
Lucenteforte, Ersilia ; Romoli, Marco ; Zagli, Giovanni ; Gensini, Gian Franco ; Mugelli, Alessandro ; Vannacci, Alfredo

International journal of cardiology, 2014, Vol.175 (1), p.171-175