8 Best Foods For Heart Health

heart health

The Foods You Eat May Affect Your Heart Health

Healthy nutrition plays a huge role in reducing one’s risk of developing heart disease. Generally, a heart-healthy diet would include foods that contain healthy fats and fiber, while limiting salt and harmful lipids. While no single food would be the perfect choice, there are certain foods that are known to improve heart health.

Whole grains

Whole grains contain antioxidants, phytosterols and phytoestrogens that work well in protecting against coronary disorders. In particular, the fiber in whole grains have been found to greatly lower the risk of heart disease. As such, people who eat these foods in plenty usually have a 40% lower risk of heart disease than their counterparts who don’t.

It would be advisable to go for grains rich in soluble fiber, which is known to lower ‘bad’ LDL. This kind of fiber binds to bile acid, a vital element in the digestion of fat. The body makes bile acid using cholesterol. Because humans are incapable of digesting fiber, it is usually egested from the digestive system, along with the bile acid that binds to it. This effectively makes the body convert more cholesterol into bile acid. The result is lower levels of the said substance in the circulatory system.  Some of the grains rich in soluble fiber include barley and okra.

Fish

According to experts, consuming several servings of fish each week is associated with a 30% lower risk of developing heart disease over the long term. This is especially true for oily fish varieties, such as tuna and salmon. These are known to contain omega-3 fats, which are themselves vital in lowering triglycerides. The latter are one of the causes of blood clots. Besides, omega-3 fatty acids also contribute to a regular heart rhythm, not to mention the lowering of blood pressure. Salmon is perhaps the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Nuts

Besides being chock-full of vitamins and minerals, nuts could help in improving heart health. Research has indicated that individuals who eat nuts several times per week have a lower incidence of coronary disease. Some good examples here would include almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts and hazelnuts.

Tomatoes

According to studies, the combination of nutrients in tomatoes may contribute to better cardiovascular health. Tomatoes are an excellent source of potassium, fiber and several vitamins. And cooking tomatoes could decrease their vitamin C content, it actually enhances their health benefits. This is because lycopene, which works with other nutrients to aid in the prevention of illness, is more available in cooked tomatoes. The substance can also be obtained from sun-dried tomato varieties.

Bananas

A single banana contains about 12% of the recommended daily dose of potassium. This mineral helps balance the amounts of sodium and water in the body. This balance is vital in maintaining regular blood pressure. Potassium is also known to support normal heart function.

Popcorn

Popcorn contains certain antioxidants (known as polyphenols) linked with improved cardiovascular wellbeing. Pound for pound, popcorn delivers 4 times the amount of polyphenols contained in kidney beans. These boast the highest concentration of the said antioxidants among all vegetables. And it gets better. Because popcorn is a whole grain, those who eat plenty of it tend to be leaner and have a reduced risk of heart disease.

Berries

Eating about 1 cup of mixed berries each day for about 8 weeks has been shown to increase levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind, and reduced blood pressure as well. This is attributed to the diverse range of health-promoting compounds contained in berries. Some of the berries associated with these benefits include black currants, bilberries, strawberries and chokeberries.

Alcohol/Wine

Individuals who drink moderately are less likely to suffer from heart disease when compared to teetotalers. Besides decreasing inflammation, alcohol is known to raise HDL cholesterol and prevent clots that cause heart attacks. Moderate drinking could also increase estrogen, a hormone known to protect the heart. And this would greatly help postmenopausal women whose diminished estrogen levels put them at higher risk of heart disease.

Other Foods

-Colorful veggies like red peppers are rich in carotenoids, fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial to the heart.

-Fruits, such as oranges and papaya, are usually packed with potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene.

-Flaxseeds also contain fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally, one should try to take them in milled or ground form in order to maximize the benefits.

Incorporating such foods into one’s diet could make a huge difference for their cardiovascular health. The best way to do this would be to create meals and snacks that include a few of these examples. Experts recommend eating more foods in their natural form, as they usually provide more nutrients.