Heart Healthy Foods
With heart disease being the number one killer in the United States, everyone can benefit from following a heart healthy diet. The following list of heart healthy foods provide great options to include in your daily diet.
- Blueberries: Blueberries contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce blood pressure and dilute the blood vessels. A recent study reports that postmenopausal women who eat one cup of blueberries a day can decrease their blood pressure and arterial stiffness, thus reducing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are full of heart healthy vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that is thought to play a role in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and heart disease, while also helping keep the blood vessels open.
- Beans: Research has found that eating ½ cup of beans, such as black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and navy, daily can decrease cholesterol levels. This is due to the number of heart healthy vitamins and minerals, as well as the amount of soluble fiber and plant based protein, they contain.
- Nuts: Nuts, particularly almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts, are an excellent source of numerous vitamins, minerals, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats. They have demonstrated an ability to lower bad cholesterol and improve the health of your arteries' lining. In fact, research shows that individuals who eat nuts more than two times a week have a lower rate of heart disease than those who do not.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal provides an abundance of potassium, folate, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Oatmeal also lowers your LDL cholesterol and helps keep your arteries clear, facilitating blood flow. When possible, opt for steel cut or coarse oatmeal because they contain more fiber than instant varieties.
- Olive oil: Olive oil, especially virgin and extra virgin options, are chock full of monounsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol and reduce your heart disease risks. A study that examined the incidence of cardiovascular disease worldwide found that although men in Crete are predisposed to high cholesterol levels, a minimal number died from it because their diet centered on the heart healthy fats found in olive oil.
- Flaxseed: Topping your morning oatmeal with a light sprinkling of flaxseed is an excellent way to start off your day. Flaxseed contains plenty of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and fiber that are crucial for good cardiac health.
- Soy: Low in saturated fat and a great supply of lean protein, soy also has the potential to reduce cholesterol levels.
- Spinach: Spinach is a heart healthy food that contains plenty of fiber, folate, lutein, and potassium. Also, increasing your consumption of any vegetable can benefit your heart. A study conducted by Physicians' Health looked at a group of more than 15,000 men who went without heart disease for a 12 year period. Those who consumed at least 2 ½ servings of veggies daily reduced their chance of developing heart disease by 25%, while each additional serving reduced their risk by another 17%.