Healthy Food / 12 Food For Your Heart-Health
Healthy Food / Heart disease accounts for nearly one-third of all deaths worldwide.
Diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart disease.
In fact, certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Here are 12 foods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens are well-known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In particular, they’re a great source of vitamin K, which helps protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness and improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels.
2. Whole Grains
Common types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa. Compared to refined grains, whole grains are higher in fiber, which may help decrease the risk of heart disease. Multiple studies have found that including more whole grains in your diet can benefit your heart health.
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are jam-packed with important nutrients that play a central role in heart health. Berries are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease. For example, one study in 27 adults with metabolic syndrome showed that drinking a beverage made of freeze-dried strawberries for eight weeks decreased cholesterol by 11%. Another study found that eating blueberries daily improved the function of cells that line the blood vessels, which help control blood pressure and blood clotting.
Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One study looked at the effects of three cholesterol-lowering diets in 45 overweight and obese people, with one of the test groups consuming one avocado per day. Avocados are also rich in potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to heart health. In fact, just one avocado supplies 975 milligrams of potassium or about 28% of the amount that you need in a day.
5. Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied extensively for their heart-health benefits. In one study in 324 people, eating salmon three times a week for eight weeks significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure. Another study showed that eating fish over the long term was linked to lower levels of total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, fasting blood sugar and systolic blood pressure. If you don’t eat much seafood, fish oil is another option for getting your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Walnuts are a great source of fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, copper, and manganese. Research shows that incorporating a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help protect against heart disease. According to one review, eating walnuts can reduce cholesterol by up to 16%, lower diastolic blood pressure and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
Beans contain resistant starch, which resists digestion and is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in your gut. According to some studies, resistant starch can improve heart health by decreasing blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. Eating beans can reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. Eating beans has been linked to reduced blood pressure and inflammation, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
8. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help boost heart health. One large study showed that those who ate chocolate at least five times per week had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters. Chocolate can be high in sugar and calories, which can negate many of its health-promoting properties.
Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, a natural plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, preventing oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which can contribute to heart disease. Low blood levels of lycopene are linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Another study in 50 overweight women found that eating tomatoes four times per week increased levels of cholesterol.
Almonds are incredibly nutrient-dense, boasting a long list of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to heart health. They’re also a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber, two important nutrients that can help protect against heart disease. Research suggests that eating almonds can have a powerful effect on your cholesterol levels, too. One study in 48 people with high cholesterol showed that eating 43 grams of almonds daily for six weeks reduced belly fat and levels of cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease. Remember that while almonds are very high in nutrients, they’re also high in calories. Measure your portions and moderate your intake if you’re trying to lose weight.
For centuries, garlic has been used as a natural remedy to treat a variety of ailments. It contains allicin, which is believed to have a multitude of therapeutic effects. In one study, taking garlic extract in doses of 600–1,500 mg daily for 24 weeks was as effective as a common prescription drug at reducing blood pressure. Other studies have found that garlic extract can inhibit platelet buildup, which may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. Be sure to consume garlic raw, or crush it and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking.
12. Olive Oil
Olive oil is packed with antioxidants, which can relieve inflammation and decrease the risk of chronic disease. It’s also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, and many studies have associated it with improvements in heart health. Furthermore, a higher intake of olive oil was associated with a 48% lower risk of dying from heart disease.