What are the Best Foods for Heart Health?
Heart-healthy foods such as fish, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally with a glass of red wine or a piece of dark chocolate, using this list as a guide to create meals and snacks with a healthy focus. Just a few simple swaps could make a big difference for your cardiovascular health.
Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel are the superstars of heart-healthy foods. That’s because they contain copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and decrease triglycerides. It also has rich levels of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection.
These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks.Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety’s high salt content.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. “It acts as a sponge in the digestive tract and soaks up the cholesterol so it is eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream.To avoiding instant oatmeal, which often contains sugar, and heading instead for old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats. Other whole grains such as bread, pasta and grits are also good for the heart as long as they still contain the entire grain.
This nut is chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E, and folate, all of which promote healthy hearts. It’s also high in polyunsaturated fats. Eat them unsalted, of course.
These soft, tasty fruits have a well-established reputation for providing the body and heart with healthy fats. Like olive oil, they’re rich in the monounsaturated fats that may lower heart disease risk factors, such as cholesterol. They’re also high in antioxidants and in potassium. They can be eaten on their own or blended into guacamole, perhaps with some heart-promoting tomatoes.
Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. One study of heart disease patients found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart. Ultimately, though, it’s important to have variety in your diet.
Flax seeds as well as the ultra-chic (among the health conscious) chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. That’s one reason they’re good for your heart. Another reason is their high fiber content. Plus, there are a million ways to enjoy them. Try them ground up with other heart-healthy foods, such as dried blueberries, cranberries, or oatmeal or even blended with soy milk and fruit to create a smoothie.
Another widely consumed beverage coffee may also promote heart health. One study found a 10 to 15% lower risk of dying from heart disease or other causes in men and women who drank six or more cups of coffee a day.Coffee has found that even two cups a day could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30%. It’s not clear where the benefit comes from and the news isn’t necessarily a reason to pick up the habit.
Broccoli, spinach and kale
When it comes to your health, you really can’t go wrong with vegetables. But green vegetables may give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fiber and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. Kale also has some omega-3 fatty acids.
Red wine, or small amounts of any type of alcohol, are thought to lower heart disease risk. (Higher amounts, more than a drink or two a day, can actually increase risk.) While some say a polyphenol found in red wine, resveratrol, gives that beverage an added benefit.
Dark Chocolate one that contains at least 70% cocoa, which has been linked to lower blood pressure, because its flavonols relax arteries, and increased blood flow. Make sure it doesn’t contain saturated fats from additives such as palm oil. daily chocolate consumption could reduce nonfatal heart attacks and stroke in people at high risk for these problems.