What are the best foods for heart health?
How can you improve your heart health with food?
You can schedule an annual checkup, exercise daily, quit smoking, or take steps to reduce the level of stress in your life.
All of these things can have a positive effect on heart health. But, one of the simplest lifestyle changes that will benefit your heart is watching what you eat.
Nearly 6 million people are currently living with heart failure, and around half of these will die within 5 years of being diagnosed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that eating foods high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium can be very bad for the heart. So, when taking steps to minimize the risk of heart disease, diet is a good place to start.
In this article, we examine some of the best foods for ensuring that you keep a robust and healthy heart.
1. AsparagusAsparagus is a natural source of folate, which helps to prevent an amino acid called homocysteine from building up in the body. High homocysteine levels have been linked with an increased risk of heart-related conditions, such as coronary artery disease and stroke.
2. Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentilsBeans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils — otherwise known as pulses or legumes — can all significantly reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol." They are also packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidant polyphenols, all of which have beneficial effects on the heart and general health.
Berries are also full of antioxidant polyphenols, which help to reduce heart disease risk. Berries are a great source of fiber, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and they are low in fat.Some studies suggest that regularly eating steamed broccoli can lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
5. Chia seeds and flaxseedsThese seeds are a rich plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid. Omega-3s have many beneficial effects, such as helping to lower levels of triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol. They also reduce blood pressure and minimize the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries.
6. Dark chocolateDark chocolate is a rare example of a food that tastes amazing and is good for you (in moderation).
Dark chocolate: delicious and heart-healthy.
However, it is important to bear in mind that this study — which used machine learning to assess data from the Framingham Heart Study — can only observe an association between factors, and cannot conclusively identify cause and effect.
8. Fish high in omega-3s
9. Green teaA 2011 systematic review found that drinking green tea is associated with a small reduction in cholesterol, which, as we know, is a main contributor to heart disease and stroke. But the review could not pinpoint how much green tea someone would have to drink to receive any health benefits.
In 2014, another review studied the effects of drinking green tea on people with high blood pressure. The report concluded that green tea was associated with a reduction in blood pressure. But, the authors were unable to determine if this modest reduction could help to prevent heart disease.
11. LiverOf all the organ meats, liver is the most nutrient-dense. In particular, liver is bulging with folic acid, iron, chromium, copper, and zinc, which increase the blood's hemoglobin level and help to keep our heart healthy.
13. Red wine (sort of)Many studies have noted the potential health benefits of the antioxidants in red wine. However, it is unlikely that the benefits of the antioxidants outweigh the dangers of alcohol.
Red wine contains beneficial antioxidants, but bear in mind that it should only be consumed in moderation.
The researchers behind that study are currently developing a new kind of stent that releases red wine-like antioxidants into the blood to promote healing, prevent blood clotting, and reduce inflammation during angioplasty.
14. SpinachYou can help to maintain a healthy heart rhythm by regularly consuming good sources of magnesium. Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary magnesium, and consumption of Popeye's favorite food is associated with a raft of health benefits.
15. TomatoesTomatoes have lots of nutrients that might help keep our hearts healthy. The little red fruits are chock-full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and choline, which are all good for the heart.
As well as helping to keep heart disease at bay, potassium benefits muscles and bones, and helps prevent kidney stones from forming.