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Heart Healthy Foods: 15 Foods to Eat for a Healthy Heart….
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 15 foods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health.
Berries, especially the red and blue varieties, are remarkably potent, heart-healthy warriors.
Results of a meta-analysis study from 2016 found that berry consumption contributed to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index.
Simply consuming 1 to 2 daily portions of either strawberries, raspberries or blueberries can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Leafy Greens
Famous spinach-lover, Popeye the Sailor, didn’t just get outwardly strong from eating his greens. Leafy greens, such as spinach, collards, kale, and arugula, contain an abundance of vitamin K, which helps decalcify blood vessels and protects the arteries.So I say, “Bring on the greens!”
What’s the best way to eat leafy greens?
For best results, enjoy a combination of raw and cooked leafy greens for maximum nutritional benefits.
Did you know that avocados have even more potassium than bananas? A single Hass avocado contains 33% of the daily recommended potassium intake.Potassium increases nitric oxide release, lowering blood pressure and improving the function of your arteries.
Avocados also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, which can reduce LDL cholesterol and overall cardiovascular disease risk.
4 – 5. Nuts and Seeds
Nut and peanut butter consumption can protect your heart in a number of ways. (Note: peanuts aren’t, botanically-speaking, nuts. They’re legumes. But they’re used like nuts.
Nuts and seeds have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of inflammation, decrease body weight and insulin resistance, and improve endothelial function.
Walnuts, in particular, have been extensively studied for their positive effect on LDL cholesterol. Part of the reason may have to do with their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flax and chia seeds are also rich in healthy fats and are two of the best sources of plant-based omega-3’s, namely ALA — an essential fatty acid we can only get from food.
6 .Dark Chocolate
Discovered over 2,000 years ago in Central and South America, the Latin name of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.” And it’s easy to see why.
The antioxidants derived from the cacao tree, found in cocoa powder and dark chocolate, are more powerful even than “superfruits” like blueberries, acai, cranberry, and pomegranate.
One study even showed that high levels of dark chocolate consumption reduced cardiovascular disease by 37%, type 2 diabetes by 31%, and stroke by 29%. Those are pretty significant numbers!
How to choose the best chocolate:
But even for all its benefits, keep in mind that most chocolate contains large amounts of sugar and dairy, which can mitigate its benefits
As a child, you may have heard the schoolyard song about beans being good for your heart.Beans are high in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them a top heart-healthy food.
Beans also contain phytochemicals that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress caused by a buildup of plaque and clogging of the arteries.
Darker colored beans, such as adzuki beans and black beans, have the highest levels of phytochemicals. But all kinds of beans are highly nutritious and are excellent foods for heart health.
Add them to soups and salads or prepare them as a main course with steamed veggies.
Just one serving of beans per day can reduce your risk of heart attack by 38%, according to a 2005 study.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, an antioxidant and carotenoid that gives them their red color.
As an antioxidant, lycopene can lower inflammation in your body and prevent oxidative stress that contributes to heart disease.
What’s the best way to eat tomatoes?
Eating raw tomatoes was shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol) in overweight women.Try including cooked tomatoes in stews, chilis, and stir-fries or as a topping on zucchini or butternut squash noodles.
An apple a day may keep the cardiologist away. But why exactly is that?
Like beans, they also have polyphenols and other antioxidants that fight heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.One study concluded that apples could be almost as effective at preventing heart disease deaths as statins, or cholesterol-lowering drugs.Apples are a beneficial addition to any heart-healthy diet.
What’s the best way to eat apples?
Eat apples with the skin on. The skin provides most of the fiber and many of the other beneficial nutrients, too.
Many Spices Are Also Heart-Healthy
Low in calories and relatively inexpensive, spices are used around the world in every culture for their flavors and medicinal benefits.
Indian spices, in particular, have been shown to protect against inflammation and damage caused by high cholesterol and blood sugar and to be protective against heart disease.
Part of the allium family of vegetables, garlic has been used for centuries in cooking and medicine.
Charaka, the father of Ayurvedic medicine, claimed that garlic maintains blood flow and strengthens the heart.
Evidence exists from the National Health and Medical Research Council that ½ to a whole clove of garlic daily could lower blood cholesterol levels by up to 9%.\
Garlic extract has also shown anti-clotting and blood-pressure-lowering properties in studies.
A major ingredient in Indian curries, the health benefits of turmeric are far-reaching due to a powerful polyphenol called curcumin.
Curcumin is what gives turmeric its yellow color. And it also has a protective role against cardiovascular disease.
The antioxidant effects of curcumin can prevent heart-related complications due to diabetes, lower LDL cholesterol levels, protect against atherosclerosis, and prevent heart failure and arrhythmias.
A widely used medicinal spice, ginger is useful in treating a variety of chronic conditions, including heart disease.In one study, mice who consumed a high dose of ginger extract for 10 weeks experienced a 76% reduction in cellular cholesterol.
Another study with humans who took a 10 gram, one-time dose of dried ginger, saw a reduction in the formation of blood clots.
13 .Black Pepper
Considered the “king of spices,” black pepper is rich in minerals including potassium, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure ― and zinc, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s also a rich source of magnesium, which helps keep blood flow and blood vessels in tip-top shape.
One study found that supplementation of black pepper in a high-fat diet
Although today we associate cinnamon with foods like apple pie, its culinary and medicinal history goes back thousands of years. Arab traders brought it to Europe in limited supplies where the then expensive spice was considered a status symbol during the Middle Ages.
Cinnamon is documented in both Indian Materia Medica and Indian Medicinal Plants – A Compendium of 500 species books, classifying the spice as an herbal drug with cardiovascular benefits.
In recent studies, cinnamon has been shown to help manage obesity-related high cholesterol while also increasing nitric-oxide levels.
Coriander has a long and well-documented history as a treatment for cholesterol.
The seeds of coriander are especially good at lowering cholesterol, which has been documented in a few different studies.
One study on rats showed a significant decrease in total cholesterol and triglycerides while HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased. Another study using coriander and curry leaves found they help prevent blood clots caused by heart disease.