Foods for a Healthy Heart
While no single food or dietary change is a cure-all, there are certain foods and eating habits that could help increase your heart health. Start eating your way to a healthier heart by adding these foods to your grocery list.
- Whole Grains: The antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols found in whole grains help protect against coronary disease. Furthermore, recent studies across the country have shown a link between a high-fiber diet and a lower risk of heart disease. One Harvard research study found that people who ate a diet high in fiber had a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who ate diets with low fiber intake. When choosing whole grain products, be sure that they are 100 percent whole grain.
- Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart: Beans contain a variety of cholesterol-lowering components including soluble fiber and flavonoids, which inhibit the sticking together of platelets in your blood and reduce your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
- Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids found in “oily” fish such as salmon and tuna can help decrease your risk of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure slightly and decrease the levels of triglycerides in the blood. High triglyceride levels could contribute to blood clotting. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week, which could decrease your risk of heart disease over the long-term by up 30 percent.
- Nuts: Nuts contain a wide range of great vitamins and minerals as well as monounsaturated fats that are beneficial for your heart. Research published by the National Institute of Health has found that individuals who consume nuts, particularly walnuts, pecans and almonds, more than two times per week have a lower occurrence of heart disease than those who do not.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes, while rich in vitamins C and A that help increase immune health, also contain lycopene, which is potentially the key to a healthier heart. Lycopene has been shown to demonstrate both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help keep your heart healthy.
- Bananas: The potassium in a banana helps maintain a balance of sodium and water in your body, as well as normal heart function.
- Popcorn: Popcorn delivers polyphenols that help combat heart disease. While popcorn does provide some important health benefits, be sure you don’t cancel them out by adding butter and salt. All natural air-popped corn is best.
- Alcohol in Moderation: Drinking in moderation can be beneficial for your heart by raising “good” cholesterol, or HDL, “thinning” your blood and decreasing your risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks. Red wine, in moderation, has flavonoids and other antioxidants, which keep your heart healthy.
By making some minor modifications to your diet, you can help decrease your risk for heart disease and help keep your heart pumping strong. Be sure to contact a doctor regarding any major shifts within your diet.