Heart disease accounts for nearly one-third of the deaths worldwide. A Heart Healthy Diet is necessary to prevent various heart diseases.
Our daily diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact the risk of heart disease.
Eating habits influences almost every aspect of heart health, from blood pressure and inflammation to cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
Including these heart-healthy foods as part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet can help keep your heart in good shape and minimize your risk of heart disease.
Heart-healthy eating habits involve choosing right foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while restricting others, such as saturated fats and added sugars.
Here are a few of the best foods to include in your diet for a healthy heart:
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are a great source of vitamin K and nitrates, which plays an important role in reducing blood pressure and improving good arterial function.
Include leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, kale, cabbage), broccoli, and carrots for good heart health.
Few studies reveal that eating whole grains can lower the associated risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. You can include these whole grains in your diet
- Plain oatmeal,
- Brown rice,
- Whole-grain bread or
Strawberries are considered good and healthy options for a healthy heart. A study conducted in 93,000 women revealed that those who had more than 3 servings of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack.
Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are power-packed with important nutrients that play a central role in heart health.
Berries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins that protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that increases the risk of heart disease.
Avocados are an extremely popular food in the health and wellness world. They are considered as super food because of their high nutritious value and several health benefits.
They are high in monounsaturated fats, and potassium. Thus helpful in lowering cholesterol (LDL) and risk of heart disease.
- Fatty fish and fish oil
Omega-3s from fish and fish oil have been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) for over the past 20 years to reduce cardiovascular risks, like heart attack or stroke, in people who already have cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish will lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and mortality.
You can also consider fish oil supplements to maintain your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Krill oil or algal oil are other alternatives of omega-3 supplements.
A Heart Healthy Diet: Walnuts
Most nuts are considered healthy as they have polyunsaturated fatty acids. Walnuts have 47% of polyunsaturated fatty acids, i.e good fats with significant amounts of alpha-linoleic acid. Alpha-linoleic acid has anti-inflammatory agents and helps reduce plaque buildup in coronary arteries.
They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, copper, and manganese. Walnuts improve cholesterol levels and the function of the blood vessels within our bodies.
A study conducted in 2009 revealed that diets combined with walnuts contributed to greater decreases in LDL (bad) and total cholesterol.
Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are some of the popular heart healthy foods.
A Heart Healthy Diet: Beans
Beans are high in minerals, fiber and contain resistant starch. Many studies have shown that eating beans as part of a heart healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your blood cholesterol. Adding beans to your diet may also help keep you feeling full longer
Dark chocolate is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants like flavonoids. There is research that shows eating dark chocolate helps in lowering blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
Eating good quality dark chocolate in moderation (i.e less than 6 servings a week) may decrease your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes..
Tomatoes have two key nutrients: lycopene and potassium which have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.. Tomato gets the red color from Lycopene which is also a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, preventing oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which can lead to heart disease.
Also, eating more tomato products and lycopene supplementation have shown a positive effects on blood lipids, blood pressure, and endothelial function
A Heart Healthy Diet: Almonds
Almonds are high in fiber and monounsaturated fats, and are linked to reductions in cholesterol and belly fat. They decrease LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, which is involved in creating plaques in coronary arteries that can lead to heart attack. Almonds lower LDL in a dose-dependent manner. This means that by increasing the amount of almonds you eat, you can further lower your LDL.
However, one should eat almonds in moderation, as they are also high in calories.
Studies also revealed that almonds reduce risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Diabetic patients can eat almonds to improve your sensitivity to insulin.
In a heart-healthy diet, apart from improving healthy eating options it is equally important to limit sodium (salt), saturated fat, added sugars, and alcohol. Reading and understanding nutrition labels can help you choose healthier food options.
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