Best Foods for a Healthy Heart
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and while it turns out he was talking about fire prevention, the same holds true when it comes to your heart. Heart disease is currently the number-one killer of Americans, and just as your diet impacts your energy level and overall sense of well being, it also impacts your heart health.
You may know that consuming fried food, red meat and the like can increase your chances of heart disease. You may not realize, though, how much eating healthy foods in their place can help prevent it. Some snacks, staples and superfoods that go a long way at boosting heart health include:
High in soluble fiber, oatmeal is among a number of foods that may help lower your “bad” cholesterol levels. To maximize heat-health benefits, forgo the instant variety in favor of the real stuff and avoid heaping sugar, syrup or other sweeteners on top.
Blueberries (and Strawberries!)
Chock full of antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C, blueberries are often a favorite among nutritionists and physicians alike. They contain compounds that help dilate blood vessels and decrease blood pressure, and research shows that strawberries offer similar benefits. A study showed that women between 25 and 42 who had at least three weekly servings of blueberries or strawberries saw a 32% reduction in heart disease risk.
In a sea of heart-healthy foods, salmon is a clear standout. Believed to reduce your risk of heart attack, cardiac arrythmia and high blood pressure, salmon contains high amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Not hooked on the flavor? Try substituting mackerel, sardines or herring and enjoy similar health benefits in doing so.
You don’t need to go nuts when it comes to serving size – consuming even a daily handful of almonds, walnuts, pecans or cashews can work wonders for your heart. These nuts are chock full of the good kind of cholesterol, and some, such as walnuts, also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Go ahead, indulge – but in moderation. Several studies have revealed that consuming dark chocolate daily lowers your risk of a nonfatal heart attack. Not all chocolate candy counts, though – make sure yours contains at least 60% cocoa content.
Certain beans, among them black, pinto and garbanzo, among others, contain folate, which can substantially lower your risk of heart disease when consumed daily. Like oatmeal, these beans contain high amounts of soluble fiber, so make them a regular part of your meal plan.
By incorporating more of these foods into your diet, you can do right by your ticker – but you should also steer clear of certain foods that can hinder your overall heart health. When it comes to the following, avoid them or consume them sparingly.
- Processed meats
- Red meat
- Fried food
- Anything with high salt content