Your heart is a finely tuned machine that keeps your body running the way that it should. To keep your heart working properly, you must eat foods that are beneficial to your heart and the rest of your body.
Even if you think you are taking good care of your heart, there could be things that you are doing or eating that is setting you back from achieving the results you want. Many different foods are great for feeding your heart and keeping your body running the way that it should.
More than 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease. Healthline reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world.
The Cleveland Clinic reports a study that found, “almost half of deaths in one year caused by heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in a large group of Americans were linked with a poor diet.” (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/poor-diet-linked-to-half-of-heart-disease-stroke-diabetes-deaths) Wow, that is really something.
Choosing the right foods can lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes. In essence, these foods may literally save your life.
Here are some recommendations to protect your heart and blood vessels.
Berries are good for your heart in addition to the rest of your body. Blueberries are packed with nutrients that help to maintain a healthy diet including the all-important antioxidants. Berries can easily be a snack by themselves, or they can be added to shakes, cereal, salad, oatmeal, or pancakes.
In addition to eating these tiny blue orbs, blueberry capsules are also an excellent way to get the concentrated antioxidant benefits of this blue fruit. Also, blueberry powder is available for those who can’t swallow capsules due to personal or medical reasons.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health. This nutrient reduces risks of abnormal heartbeats, helps to reduce triglyceride levels, slow plaque growth and may reduce blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends two servings of omega-3 rich foods such as salmon each week. One serving of cooked fish is 3.5 ounces.
#3: Black or Kidney Beans
Beans are loaded with fiber, B-complex vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, niacin, folate, and magnesium. The remarkable thing about beans is that they are so versatile that cooking with them makes it easy. You can include beans in soups, salads, and stews.
Like many items on this list, flaxseed has omega-3 fatty acids and soluble and insoluble fiber. It is one of the highest available lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil is easy to incorporate into cooking or anything that you usually eat. You can top your oatmeal, yogurt, and salad with flaxseeds or combine them into your smoothies.
Nuts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol, and almonds are a great choice for heart health. They contain key nutrients, such as calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and heart healthy monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can put then in your salad or oatmeal, coat your yogurt with crushed almonds, or sprinkle them over your brown rice or quinoa dishes. When choosing nuts of any kind, choose unsalted and unflavored for further cardiac protection.
Walnuts are also great choices providing you with fiber, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and pro heart fats including monosaturated and polyunsaturated varieties along with phytosterols. Walnuts taste great in salads, in oatmeal, and as a standalone snack.
Oatmeal is a great breakfast choice and an excellent choice for omega-3 fatty acids. It is full of fiber, offering about 4 grams in every one-cup serving, and provides magnesium, potassium, and iron, to name a few. Oatmeal is a filling breakfast that can be topped with your favorite fruits and nuts. Choose steel cut oats without any added sugar or flavorings. You can also consider trying fat-free oatmeal cookies, oat bread, or mixed whole roasted oats in turkey burger meatloaf.
#6 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil may just be the magic potion for the heart. According to Healthline, 11% of the fat in olive oil is polyunsaturated, providing you with heart healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. More important is the fact that olive oil contains 73% of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which reduces inflammation in the body.
The large amounts of key antioxidants, such as oleocanthal in olive oil further reduce inflammation which helps lower risks of chronic diseases, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Stroke and olive has been a topic studied extensively by science. One large review that looked at different studies of 841,000 people discovered that olive oil was the sole source of monounsaturated fat linked to lower risks of heart disease and stroke (Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and health status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies; Schwingshackl, et al).
Through observational studies, researchers found that heart disease occurs less in Mediterranean countries. This finding led to examination of the typical diet eaten ion the Mediterranean diet, which numerous studies found to greatly lower risks of heart disease (Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts; Estruch et al) (‘Mediterranean’ dietary pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease; Rees, et al).
One of the key ingredients of the Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil which has been to shown to prevent excessive blood clotting, protect against LDL cholesterol and even lower blood pressure, one of the biggest risk elements of heart disease and premature death.
Studies find this magic oil to reduce the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (Olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and arterial blood pressure: the Greek European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study; Psaltopoulou, et al) (Virgin olive oil reduces blood pressure in hypertensive elderly subjects; Perona, et al) (Olive oil and reduced need for antihypertensive medications; Ferrara, et al).
Of course, olive oil also helps improve your HDL, good cholesterol levels which help clear heart arteries of heart attack causing plaque.
Not all olive oil is the same, Extra Virgin Olive Oil offers the greatest health benefits and flavor. It is the purest form of the oil and also cold-pressed varieties yield the most nutrients.
According to Heart.org, olive oil may help to lower heart disease.
#7: Red Wine
Red wine contains flavonoids called catechins, as well as the antioxidant resveratrol. Flavonoids can help to maintain your blood vessel health and may also prevent blood clots. Resveratrol has been shown in labs to have heart-protecting benefits.
The American Heart Association does not advise people to start drinking juts for heart health, but if you normally enjoy wine, you can feel good about in how it benefits your heart. Drinking alcohol carries a risk of alcoholism, which can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, suicide, and breast cancer.