Best Foods For a Healthy Heart
While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it's still the No. 1 killer of Americans. The good news is that we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes andheart attacks. It's clear that healthy eating and living (like exercising more!) can make a huge difference.A healthy diet can be good for your heart as well as your waistline.
Find out how these foods may help lower your risk of heart disease:
Eating beans regularly is good for your heart, and you don’t need to eat a lot of them to benefit. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests having just 1⁄2 cup of cooked pinto beans daily might lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber is a key reason. Like all foods that contain a lot of soluble fiber, beans help bind cholesterol and keep it from being absorbed in the gut. And, as the fiber is fermented, it produces changes in short-chain fatty acids that can inhibit cholesterol formation. Beans contain a variety of heart-protective chemicals, including flavonoids that inhibit the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.
Consuming two or more servings of fish per week is associated with a 30 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease over the long term, studies show. Fish—especially “oily” kinds, such as salmon and tuna—contain omega-3 fats, which lower levels of triglycerides in the blood that may contribute to blood clotting. Omega-3s also lower blood pressure slightly and can help prevent irregular heart rhythms. No common fish delivers more of the omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.
Nuts are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. People who eat nuts—walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who eat them less often.
Researchers have discovered that eating moderate amounts of flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. Maintaining youthful blood vessels lowers risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. Some research also suggests cocoa may help lower blood pressure.
An excellent source of vitamin C, plus vitamin A, potassium and fiber, tomatoes are high in lycopene, which works with other vitamins and minerals to aid in disease prevention. Research suggests that the combination of nutrients in tomatoes may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
They contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestogens to boost heart health. Take them in ground or milled form to reap the greatest benefit.
Eating for a healthy heart means filling your plate with heart-healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, paying attention to fiber, eating fish a couple times a week, eating healthy fats and limiting unhealthy fats like trans fats, as well as salt. And although no single food is a cure-all, certain foods have been shown to improve your heart health.