Poor heart function is the leading cause of death among American adults, but you have the ability to reduce your risk. A healthy lifestyle and diet are two important weapons in the fight against poor heart health. Even if you are eating plenty of food, your body and heart may not be getting the right nutrients, so what you eat matters.
There are a number of food-related risk factors for poor heart health, including an unhealthy weight, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled blood glucose. When you switch to a diet that is more plant-based and, as a result, naturally low in saturated fat, you can substantially reduce the risk of developing chronic heart problems.
With diet playing such an important role in heart health, what you eat matters. A plant-based diet that is low in saturated fats and refined sugars and high in fiber is essential. In particular, there are a few top foods you should include in your diet to support heart function and overall health.
1. Eat a Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables of many colors are part of the rainbow of foods that will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals for optimal heart health. These include:
♦ Berries are full of antioxidants, which have been shown to help support healthy cholesterol levels, promote healthy arterial lining, reduce typical oxidative stress, and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
♦ Bananas and oranges have plenty of potassium, which naturally helps support healthy blood pressure.
♦ Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) are full of heart-essential nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber.
2. Lentils & Beans
Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The fiber in beans and lentils can help you feel full for a longer period of time, which helps you maintain a healthy weight and can reduce cravings for unhealthy food options. Lentils also help lower cholesterol as well as support healthy blood pressure levels.
Lentils are also an excellent replacement for meat in meals, as regular consumption of red and processed meats has been associated with poor heart health. Beans and lentils are easy to add to your daily diet as they are inexpensive and versatile and can be purchased already cooked and ready to eat or dry for you to prepare as you like them.
Oats are great sources of soluble fiber, which may help to reduce the risk of heart problems. Soluble fiber has the ability to help lower LDL cholesterol. The unique composition of oats gives this grain its nutritional advantage against other cereals. The macronutrient composition of oats provides almost four times more healthy fat, one-third more protein, and less starch than other cereals.
Oats are easy to prepare. If you don’t have a lot of time, mix instant oats with water and put them in the microwave. You can also prepare overnight oats by mixing dry oats with your favorite plant milk; the milk soaks into the oats, and breakfast is ready for you in the morning. Or, for a thicker bowl of oatmeal, cook steel-cut oats on the stove.
Oats can also be served with fruit, flax or chia seeds, granola, or shredded coconut. Or, you can make a more savory dish when you prepare your oats with salsa, spinach, or nutritional yeast.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Eating nuts and seeds as part of a healthy diet benefits your heart. Nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fatty acids and other essential heart-healthy nutrients. They are a healthier snack alternative to chips, pretzels, and processed foods and are inexpensive, easy to store, and easy to pack when you're on the go.
Almonds and walnuts are good sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber and important micronutrients like magnesium, which helps support a healthy heartbeat, and manganese, which acts as a vasodilator to support healthy arterial blood flow. As for seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds are also high in fiber and contain omega-3s to support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and a lower risk of heart problems. These healthy fats and the high fiber content in avocados also help create a feeling of fullness. Avocados are also great alternatives for cheese or mayonnaise on sandwiches and can be added to salads or smoothies.
For healthy cooking, use an oil high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil. When used in moderation to replace saturated or trans fats, these oils help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and improve the function of the lining of the arteries. It is also important to pay attention to portion sizes, plan your meals, get regular exercise, and include supplemental support.
With the right supplements, you can provide your heart with beneficial and natural ingredients that are doctor-recommended for comprehensive heart support. 1MD Nutrition™ offers two broad-spectrum formulas designed to support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels for optimal heart, circulatory, and metabolic function.
CholestMD® contains patented Bergavit® and niacin, two potent ingredients that provide comprehensive cholesterol and cardiovascular support. The addition of olive leaf extract and garlic, which work synergistically to support healthy lipid levels, aid blood circulation and support metabolic function, make CholestMD® one of the most targeted and effective supplements for heart health.
GlucoseMD® is tailored to support normal blood sugar levels with CinSulin® cassia cinnamon extract, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and berberine bark. This extract helps to enhance sugar uptake from the blood into the muscles—the addition of gymnema and chromium support pancreatic cell action to offer comprehensive metabolic and cardiovascular health.
There is a role for medication when it comes to heart health, but there is also a significant benefit to having a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, and stress management. Taking a holistic approach that incorporates standard medical care, proper nutrition, and the targeted support of 1MD Nutrition’s heart health supplements can give you control of your health and happiness by giving your heart everything it needs.
Dr. Heather Shenkman
Dr. Heather Shenkman is a board certified interventional cardiologist. She completed a six year program at Albany Medical College, graduating at the age of 23. She completed her residency at Henry Ford Hospital, cardiology fellowship at the University of Rochester, and interventional cardiology fellowship at the esteemed Tufts Medical Center in Boston.