We all know that regular exercise and weight control are required for keeping the heart healthy. But did you know that the food you eat is equally important in keeping the heart pumping? Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United Sates. It is no more restricted to the elderly. The disease is now affecting young adults as well.
Improving diet is the first step in preventing heart diseases. A heart healthy diet can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by almost 80%. No single food can guarantee a healthy heart, but certain foods on combining can definitely help you avoid the emergency room.
30 Best Heart Healthy Foods:
Here is a list of foods that can keep your heart healthy. The foods listed in below are the best in protecting the heart and blood vessels. Every bit of these heart healthy foods will protect the heart cells from damage.
|Heart Friendly Foods|
|1. Salmon||2. Flaxseeds||3. Oatmeal|
|4. Kidney Beans||5. Almonds||6. Walnuts|
|7. Red Wine||8. Tuna||9. Tofu|
|10. Brown Rice||11. Soymilk||12. Blueberries|
|13. Carrots||14. Spinach||15. Pomegranates|
|16. Sweet Potato||17. Red Bell Peppers||18. Banana|
|19. Oranges||20. Tomatoes||21. Cantaloupe|
|22. Apple||23. Dark Chocolate||24. Green Tea|
|25. Whole Grains||26. Olive Oil||27. Avocado|
|28. Beans||29. Yogurt||30. Raisins|
If you want to know more about the above list of foods, please follow below.
Consuming two or more servings of salmon every week can reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases by 30%. Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon prevent blood clotting thus protecting from heart attack. It also prevents irregular heart rhythms. Make sure you choose wild salmon, as farm-raised fish often contain heavy metals, insecticides and pesticides.
These tiny, brown seeds contain phytoestrogen, a substance that prevents stroke, blood clots and cardiac arrhythmias. It also helps to lower low-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels in the blood. Besides providing you with essential fatty acids, flaxseed is also a good source of fiber. You can add ground flax seeds in yogurt parfait, applesauce, muffins, cookies and cereals.
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal to lower the bad cholesterol and keep the arteries clear. Oatmeal also provides you with nutrients like folate, niacin, soluble fiber and potassium. Top your bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries, nuts or raisins for a hearty treat. Pick coarse or steel cut oats over instant oatmeal as they contain more fiber.
4. Kidney Beans:
Give your soup a nutritional boost by adding a handful of cooked kidney beans to it. It contains soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol, preventing it from getting absorbed in the body. Kidney beans also benefit the body with niacin, folate, B complex vitamin and protein. The high levels of protein in kidney beans repairs the damaged muscles and improves the overall strength.
Tree nuts contain all the nutrients necessary for the heart’s health. Almonds come packed with heart favorable mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, plant based omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Almonds can be added to salads, pastas, muffins, pancakes and just about any sweet dish. The high levels of fiber in almonds ease the digestive tract, thereby preventing constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
Walnuts contain plant based omega 3 fatty acids, folate and unsaturated fatty acids, which are very essential for the proper health of the heart. Arginine in walnuts is required to make nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels and supports blood flow. Walnuts will add an excellent flavor and crunch to your oatmeal and yogurt parfait. You can also keep a small packet of walnut in your bag for an on- the-go snack.
7. Red Wine:
Red wine, when consumed in moderation can help your heart. It contains catechins and resveratrol, which prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. It thins out the blood and prevents clots that cause heart attack and stroke. Red wine contains procyanidin, an antioxidant that reduces cholesterol and improves the arterial health. Consuming two glasses of wine, a day is more than enough to reduce the risk of heart diseases.
The omega 3 fatty acids in tuna permeate the arteries and make them more flexible, reducing blood pressure. It reduces the amount of plaque that builds the inside of the walls of the arteries. It also contains selenium, an antioxidant that boosts cardiovascular protection.
The enzymes found in tofu help to regulate blood pressure. It protects the blood vessels from oxidative and inflammatory damage. Slice tofu and marinate in the spices of your choice for several hours. Grill or stir fry with fresh veggies.
10. Brown Rice:
Brown rice reduces the build up of arterial plaque, thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases. It also contains B complex vitamins, fiber and magnesium. Stir in some chopped vegetables like spinach, celery, broccoli and capsicum with brown rice for a quick meal.
Soymilk contains isoflavone, an organic compound that is shown to reduce cholesterol. Unlike whole fat milk, soymilk contains no cholesterol and is extremely low in fat. Soymilk also contains niacin, a nutrient that helps to boost blood circulation. Soymilk will pair best with oatmeal or whole grain cereal. You can also make a smoothie with soymilk.
This delicious, dark berry contains a whole lot of nutrients like B complex vitamin, calcium, isoflavone, polyphenols, phytoestrogens and potassium. The anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries reduce the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Polyphenols are a set of antioxidants that protect the blood vessels and reduce low-density lipoprotein in the blood. They increase the levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that produces heart healthy effects. It also relaxes the blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Carrot contains alpha-carotene, a carotenoid and fiber, both of which are essential for heart health. The soluble fiber keeps the artery clean by lowering the low density lipoprotein. Low density lipoprotein forms plaque in the arteries, narrowing the passageways and restricting the blood flow to the heart. Eat carrot sticks with peanut butter or shred some into a muffin batter.
Researchers have concluded that eating two and a half servings of spinach daily could reduce the risk of heart disease by 25%. Besides, spinach also provides you with B complex vitamins, fiber, potassium and folate.
Pomegranate is one of the best fruits for preventing heart diseases. The benefits of pomegranates for the heart come from the highest levels of polyphenol, anthocyanins and tannins present in it. Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily can reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It also increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the heart.
16. Sweet Potato:
Sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A, B, C and E. Vitamin B6 helps to reduce the chemical homocysteine in the body, preventing heart attack. Make sure you eat sweet potato with skin as it contains several heart healthy nutrients.
17. Red Bell Peppers:
Red bell peppers contain high concentrations of Vitamin C, B complex vitamins, potassium and fiber, which are excellent for the heart health. It contains high levels of potassium that lowers blood pressure. Red bell pepper goes best with salads, wraps and sandwiches. You can also fill bell peppers with brown rice and grill in the oven until tender.
A single banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium, around 12% of the daily value. Potassium is very essential for normal heart health. It balances sodium and water in the body, maintaining the normal heart function. It also excretes excess sodium from the kidney, thereby contributing to healthy blood pressure.
This citrus fruit is packed with flavonoids that lower blood pressure and reduce artery inflammation. Hesperidin, a plant chemical found in oranges, improves blood flow to the heart, protecting you from stroke. It also contains chock full of lutein, flavonoids, vitamin C and E, alpha carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Vitamin E protects the heart cells from the free radical damage.
Tomato is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, potassium, fiber and antioxidants. The combination of several nutrients in tomato may help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Unlike most of the vegetables, cooking increases the nutritional value of tomatoes. You can try tomatoes in sandwiches, salads, pizzas, pasta or in the form of tomato juice.
Cantaloupe contains alpha-beta carotene, B complex vitamins, fiber and potassium. B complex vitamins in cantaloupe protect the body from atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Eat this fragrant fruit for breakfast or for an evening snack.
Apples have long been associated for preventing coronary heart diseases. Several researchers have shown that frequent apple eaters have the lowest risk of dying from stroke as compared to non-apple eaters. The flavonoid compounds found in apples play a key role in preventing the bad cholesterol from oxidizing. It also inhibits inflammation of the arteries. Pectin, a soluble fiber found in apple peel helps to block the absorption of cholesterol in the blood. Combine apple with other tropical fruits to make a mouthwatering fruit salad.
23. Dark Chocolate:
The benefits of dark chocolate for heart are well documented. Researchers say that eating a small bar of dark chocolate on a daily basis can boost the body’s antioxidant reserves. Dark chocolate contains cocoa phenols, a flavonoid that promotes healthy blood circulation. Polyphenols, on the other hand, boost the immune system, reducing inflammation and the risk of atherosclerosis. Cocoa contains epicatechins, a compound that boosts nitric oxide, which keeps the blood pressure from increasing. While purchasing dark chocolate, choose with 70% or higher cocoa content.
24. Green Tea:
A study conducted in 2006 found that regular consumption of green tea could lower the risk of death due to heart diseases. Green tea is very efficient in keeping the blood vessels relaxed. It contains catechins and flavonoids that increase the antioxidant functioning in the blood, protecting the bad cholesterol from oxidation. It also prevents the formation of blood clots.
25. Whole Grains:
Whole grains contain antioxidant, phytosterol and phytoestrogen that provide protection from coronary diseases. They are a good source of fiber and other nutrients that play an essential role in regulating blood pressure and maintaining heart health. Fiber clears out the bad cholesterol from the arteries before it gets a chance to stick around. Whole grains high in fiber include, barley, wheat, buckwheat and quinoa.
26. Olive Oil:
Olive oil contains polyunsaturated fats that reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. The oil contains high levels of antioxidants that unclog the arteries and lower the blood cholesterol levels. Look for extra virgin olive oil as they are less processed. Remember, you have to consume olive oil in moderation as they are high in calories.
Apply avocado spread to your sandwich or add cubed avocado to salad to increase the amount of heart healthy fats in your diet. Avocado comes packed with monounsaturated fats that can lower the LDL levels while keeping the HDL cholesterol intact. Avocado also helps in the absorption of beta-carotene and lycopene, the antioxidants essential for heart health. This creamy fruit is high in calories, so go easy with it.
According to a study, people who consume legumes on a daily basis have a 22% lower risk of developing heart diseases as compared to those who do not. Beans come packed with soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels. As the fiber is fermented, it produces changes in the fatty acids that help to inhibit the cholesterol formation. Folate in beans reduces blood homocysteine, a biomarker for heart diseases. Avoid canned beans as they contain sodium and other preservatives that can harm the heart.
Studies have shown that yogurt can prevent gum diseases, which, if left unchecked, can increase a person’s chance of getting heart diseases. A study conducted in Japan University found that people who consumed high levels of dairy products had the healthiest gums. Probiotics in yogurt counters the growth of unfriendly bacteria in the mouth. Probiotics also improve the digestion and boost immunity, thereby preventing cardiovascular diseases.
The antioxidants found in yogurt can fight inflammation and gum diseases. Raisins are packed with potassium that lower hypertension. Its probiotic properties also keep the stomach lining healthy. Take a handful of raisins for your evening snack to get instant energy.
Hence, you can decrease the possibility of cardiovascular diseases by eating these foods on a daily basis. Besides the foods mentioned here, you also need to limit the saturated fat and cut down trans fat intake. These fats deposit bad cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, avoid processed and packaged foods.
Are you going to include these heart healthy foods to protect your cardiovascular system? Do share your feedback with us in the comment section