Good health begins with the contents of your plate. In particular, eating healthy can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Here are 15 foods that are good for the heart and helpful in maintain in good cardiovascular health.
15 foods that are good for your heart and cardiovascular health
There are several foods that help maintain good cardiovascular health and that of the heart, the engine of the human body. These foods are not only good for cardiovascular health and heart health, but they are also good for overall health. In addition, most of them are very tasty. These foods should be included in your plate every day!
Broccoli is food rich in calcium and potassium. It helps maintain healthy bone mass and good blood pressure. Well-controlled blood pressure helps lower the risk of stroke. This vegetable has many other properties including protection against free radicals, blackouts and cataracts, among other things.
Avocado is a great food to include in your diet on a regular basis. It neutralizes bad cholesterol by providing a lot of monosaturated fat, therefore good fat. It is rich in plant sterol, which helps to slow down the absorption of bad fats contained in certain foods. Avocado therefore helps to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks by keeping the arteries free of bad fats.
Blueberries contain a very high amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body against heart disease, cancer, memory loss, and blindness.
The flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate help stabilize blood pressure and reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol that can attach to artery walls. It is a food that also helps prevent clots from forming in the blood vessels. Dark chocolate therefore ranks among the good foods that help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Eating fish regularly can help protect you against heart disease. Fish is indeed the best source of DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids that are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. These healthy fats appear to help lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels, factors associated with heart disease.
The ideal is to consume at least two meals of fish per week in order to benefit from their health effects. People who consume about 250 mg of DHA and EPA per day have a 36% lower risk of succumbing to a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Preferably choose fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, trout, sardines), as they have a higher omega-3 content. There are several ways to eat more fish: add canned salmon to your salads or sandwiches, use anchovies to top your pizza, eat sardines with crackers as a snack, etc.
In addition to helping to maintain good bone density, the concentration of magnesium, folate and potassium in spinach makes it a protective food against the risk of stroke since it helps stabilize blood pressure.
Tomatoes contain antioxidants that lower ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood and keep your blood vessels open. Eating tomatoes will lower your risk of heart attacks and tomatoes are also low in calories and sugar.
Besides being anti-inflammatory and calming heartburn, cinnamon is a great spice that helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Consume regularly. Cinnamon is a good ally against heart disease.
Consumed regularly, oats are beneficial for the heart. Oats contain soluble fibers called beta-glucans which act as traps to bind to cholesterol in the digestive system and naturally eliminate it from the body. Eating three grams of this soluble fiber per day is enough to lower your cholesterol by about 10% (125 ml or ½ cup of oatmeal contains one gram of soluble fiber). So try to eat more by adding oats (in the form of flakes, bran or flour) to your yogurts, cereals, fruit compotes and recipes.
Yes, even if they are quite high in calories, nuts, including almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pine nuts, are beneficial for the health of the heart! People who consume the equivalent of 60 ml, ¼ cup, 40 g or one ounce of nuts about five times a week can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 25%. Nuts are indeed full of nutrients such as unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and fiber, which help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.
Nuts also contain unique plant sterols, which mimic cholesterol and are a healthy replacement for it in the body. Some nuts, like walnuts, are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps fight heart disease. So don’t hesitate to add nuts to your stir-fries, salads, as breadcrumbs on your baked vegetables, etc.
Often unloved, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.) are nevertheless allies of your heart. These contain a lot of soluble fiber, which prevents cholesterol from being absorbed by the body. Daily consumption of legumes (the equivalent of 125 ml or ½ cup) can lower your cholesterol level by about 10%. Besides soluble fiber, legumes are also rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that help regulate blood pressure. So add legumes to your soups, salads, stews and pasta. Eating hummus is another way to incorporate legumes into your diet.
Alcohol and coffee
Alcohol, especially red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease, but beware not to drink too much as it can also increase the risk. Therefore, do not drink more than two glasses of red wine per day. Coffee would also reduce the risk of death from heart disease by about 15%. In fact, the risk of strokes decreases by 30%. But again: drinking too much coffee increases the risk. So don’t drink more than six cups of coffee a day.
Drinking green tea brings various health benefits. Those who drink about three to four cups of green tea a day have a 20% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk of a heart attack also decreases significantly.
Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants that prevent, among other things, hardening of the arteries. When you eat a pomegranate daily, blood flow to your heart also improves.
Soy products, such as tofu and soy milk, contain many unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Soy lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your blood. If you want to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is best to replace your regular milk with soy milk!
Vanessa is originally from the Ukraine. She has been living in Florida for the last 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Florida and a Master’s degree in Technical Writing from the University of South Florida. She covers mostly health and health-related issues for the Scientific Origin.