When it comes to the health of your heart, your diet plays a primary role. In fact, right from the management of your blood pressure to proving prime protection from a number of heart diseases, your diet can do it all. Healthy eating choices and eating patterns can not only give your heart a necessary health boost, but they can also help you fit into a smaller pair of jeans and keep your skin healthy and young. Studies show the reason behind approximately one-third of the deaths worldwide is because of heart disease alone. Interestingly, just the addition of certain heart healthy food items to add to your daily diet can make all the difference. In fact, there are certain common food items that can impact blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammation.
Understanding Heart Health
Did you know the heart of a healthy adult beats over 2 billion times in an average lifetime? During which it works to push more than millions of gallons of blood to all the parts of the body. The consistent flow of blood transports oxygen, hormones, and several crucial elements to all the parts of the body. In fact, if the heart stops working, all the essential bodily functions simply fail and the body breaks down. Despite the constant workload that never ends, the heart is steadfast and dependable.
However, in the absence of heart-healthy habits, which include lack of heart healthy food, absence of exercise, and unhealthy habits like smoking, and drinking the heart stumbles and in worse cases even breaks down. This absence of heart-healthy habits makes you more prone to several big and small heart diseases including high blood pressure and even heart attack.
One of the major problems that come with bad heart health is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is nothing but the accumulation of cholesterol inside your already thin arteries. This accumulation limits the normal blood flow through the arteries, which can lead to a life-threatening heart attack or stroke.
Although with age the functioning of the heart gradually slows down, however, it is important to understand unhealthy habits can make your heart age faster. With healthy lifestyle changes, you can not only reduce the chances of getting a heart attack you can achieve an overall better immunity. But the question remains on how to incorporate heart-healthy habits.
How to incorporate Heart-Healthy eating habits?
Despite being one of the leading causes of death in the United States, heart attacks are totally avoidable. All you need to do is incorporate a few heart-healthy habits. When it comes to heart-healthy living, you have a chance to make healthy choices at every point of your life. Right from taking the stairs to eating broccoli, every little action plays a very important role.
While there are many factors in how you can minimize the chances of getting heart disease, your diet is the most important. With heart-healthy eating habits, you can consciously add heart healthy food items to add to your daily diet including certain fruits and vegetables and minimize the intake of saturated fats and sugars. Ahead, find a carefully curated list of 15 heart healthy food items for the soundness of your heart.
Here is a list of 15 heart healthy food items to maximize your heart health:
1. Green leafy vegetables
When it comes to heart healthy food items to add to your daily diet green vegetables definitely top the list. It is well established that green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants. Whenever you have a chance to incorporate kale, spinach, and collard greens into your diet, please say yes. Not only are they a great source of vitamin K, but they are also one of the best heart healthy foods out there. Research shows, green vegetables promote improved blood flow through your arteries and even a enable healthy blood clotting process which reduces the risk of heart diseases. Moreover, green veggies are also rich in dietary nitrates, which help in the management of blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and overall cell function.
Another vegetable that works as well as green vegetables to protect the heart is a tomato. Tomatoes are one of the best heart healthy foods that are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is a natural plant-based pigment filled with antioxidant properties. These antioxidant-rich properties work to neutralize damaging free radicals that prevent and protect from any oxidative damage or inflammation thereby protecting from heart diseases. Lycopene is also linked to reducing the risk of heart attack and even stroke. Incorporation of tomatoes into your daily diet can help you manage blood pressure, blood lipids, and even endothelial function. Studies reveal tomatoes are known to increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. HDL further works to eliminate any excess cholesterol or plaque from arteries which promotes better flow of blood thereby protecting the heart from heart diseases and stroke.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains are another heart healthy food items that you must add to your daily diet to promote a healthy heart. Germ, endosperm, and bran are all nutrient-rich parts of any grain. Top whole grains you must incorporate into your diet include:
- brown rice
While the consumption of refined carbohydrates might increase the risk of heart disease, the consumption of whole grains actually works to protect the heart. Studies claim that incorporating more whole grains into your diet can definitely work to benefit your heart and improve overall heart health while reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition to that, it also works to prevent as well as manage hypertension. So the next time you go grocery shopping, make sure you buy whole grains, you get products with the labels “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” When it comes to labels like “wheat flour” or even “multigrain” you must read the label to confirm if they are whole grains.
Avocados are another one of several heart healthy food items out there. Avocados are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fats which are incredibly heart healthy. They are known to effectively reduce the levels of cholesterol hence lowering the risk of heart disease. Studies reveal that avocados reduce the incorporation of LDL or bad cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Also, multiple studies also claim that avocados exhibit lipid-lowering and cardioprotective properties. They are rich in potassium which works to benefit the heart. Avocados help in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and even stroke.
Berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and even blackberries are one of the best categories of heart healthy food items. Filled with the essential nutrients and antioxidants for the body, berries work to nourish as well as protect the body against oxidative stress as well as inflammation. Not just that, studies show berries specifically strawberries help in the improvement of insulin resistance and management of LDL also known as bad cholesterol.
Another study about blueberries reveals that the incorporation of blueberries in your diet can improve the functioning of cells lining the blood vessels. This helps in controlling blood pressure and promotes healthy blood clotting. Almost all kinds of berries work to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol and help in the maintenance of systolic blood pressure, body mass index, and inflammation. When you have a bad sugar craving or simply need a snack, berries cab definitely be that low-calorie but delicious dessert. Another food for healthy heart might include fruits like cherries and oranges for the heart.
6. Fatty fish & fish oil
Studies claim that fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are flooded with heart-health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fatty fish play a crucial role in protecting the heart from developing any heart disease. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of arrhythmias and CVD events. Studies claim that the consumption of fish for an extended period of time can reduce cholesterol levels and help in the management of blood triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. Another study proved the positive relationship between the consumption of fish and the risk reduction of cardiovascular diseases and depression. It even works to increase overall longevity. Another way to incorporate the benefits of fish is by incorporating fish oil which ensures the daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Apart from fish oils, fish oil supplements are also food healthy for the heart, they also work to deliver benefits like reduction of blood triglycerides, improvement of arterial function, and management of blood pressure. Similar benefits can also be incorporated through omega-3 supplements like krill oil or algal oil.
Beans are one of the best heart healthy food options out there. They are rich in resistant starch, which helps in the digestion process. Resistant starch in beans also works to benefit the gut. Several studies claim that adding beans and legumes to the daily diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of blood triglycerides and LDL or bad cholesterol. Beans also help in the management of blood pressure and inflammation which again reduces the risk of heart disease. Add beans to your daily routine if you want to incorporate a diet for a healthy heart.
8. Dark chocolate
Another exciting food item that actually helps in improving heart health is dark chocolate. When incorporated in moderation, dark chocolates can incorporate a healthy dose of antioxidants including flavonoids, that work to promote better heart health. Studies claim that consuming less than 5-6 servings of unsweetened dark chocolate per week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. However, when eaten in huge amounts chocolates can be harmful because of their sugar and calorie content. Make sure you pick good quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content. Moderate consumption of dark chocolate is also known to reduce the risk of plaque accumulation thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
9. Green tea
Green tea has always been linked to innumerable health benefits. Right from boosting a fat-burning metabolism to improving insulin sensitivity, green tea is no less than a magic drink. Green tea is flooded with polyphenols and catechins. They serve as antioxidants that prevent all kinds of cell damage while reducing inflammation. Studies prove green tea works to protect the soundness of your heart. Research shows green tea promotes leptin and reduces LDL or bad cholesterol which works to help with obesity. Another study claims, green tea works to reduce blood pressure triglycerides, and even LDLs. Matcha green tea also seems to have multiple benefits for the heart. All kinds of green tea-infused snack or green tea as a beverage works as one of the best heart healthy food options.
Almonds are another nutrient-rich healthy snack that works to benefit the heart. They are rich in all kinds of vitamins and minerals and work to promote heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. These work to protect against heart disease. Research claims eating almonds regularly can even work to reduce cholesterol levels. It even reduces belly fat along with the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition to that, studies show almonds increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. This in turn reduces any plaque buildup while clearing your arteries to promote better blood flow. Almonds are rich in nutrients and calories as well. However, when consumed in moderation it is known to deliver fiber and monounsaturated fats which reduces cholesterol as well as belly fat.
If you have been looking for heart healthy food items, walnuts are another snack you can definitely incorporate into your daily diet. They are flooded with fiber and micronutrients including magnesium, copper, and manganese. Just a few servings of walnuts can help in the protection against several heart diseases. Studies show several tree nuts including walnuts work to prevent cardiovascular diseases when incorporated into the daily diet. Research shows that walnuts also decrease LDL or bad cholesterol in the body and help in the maintenance of blood pressure.
Another one of the best heart healthy food items that you must consider adding to your diet are certain kinds of seeds including, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds. Not only are they rich in heart-healthy nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids they promote the incorporation of fiber. Studies claim the incorporation of seeds into your diet can effectively minimize risk factors like blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol, and triglycerides that might lead to a heart attack. Hemp seeds are rich in arginine which is an amino acid that works to promote lower blood pressure levels and reduces inflammatory markers. This reduces the risk of heart disease. Another example of a heart-healthy seed is flaxseed which also helps in blood pressure and cholesterol management. This proves flaxseed minimizes the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Also, it also helps in minimizing the risk of diabetes and certain gastrointestinal conditions. When it comes to seeds chia seeds are another health healthy food item that potentially works to lower blood triglyceride levels while boosting the levels of beneficial HDL or good cholesterol.
13. Olive oil
A staple in Mediterranean diets, olive oil is one of the most documented heart healthy food items out there. Packed with antioxidants, olive oil is known to relieve all kinds of inflammation while decreasing the risk of chronic diseases. Studies have shown olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that work to improve heart health. Another study shows olive oil works to effectively lower the risk of acquiring heart disease. Moreover, olive oil is rich in oleic acid as well as antioxidants that help in the prevention as well as treatment of hypertension. Olive oil can easily be substituted with your cooking oil and can even be added to salads and sauces.
Immature soybean popularly known as edamame that’s used in several Asian dishes is another one of the most effective heart healthy food items. Just like any other soy product, edamame is filled with soy isoflavones which is a flavonoids. It helps in lowering cholesterol levels and works to improve heart health. Soy protein also reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. When combined with a better lifestyle and more dietary changes, it can even reduce cholesterol levels which works to reduce the risk of heart ailments. Studies show soy protein works to manage blood lipids, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Along with that, edamame is rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants as well. Tofu is another soy-rich snack that’s good for the heart.
It is well established that garlic has plenty of health care benefits. In fact, it is one of the best home remedies to treat a number of problems. Research shows garlic is flooded with medicinal properties one of which is the improvement of heart health. Garlic is rich in compounds known as allicin which is one of the most therapeutic compounds. Studies show garlic extract works as well as a standard prescription drug for the reduction of blood pressure. Another study shows that garlic works to reduce cholesterol and LDL which makes it beneficial for patients with high cholesterol. Studies also reveal garlic works to reduce any sort of platelet buildup, which reduces the risk of blood clots and even stroke. When consumed raw garlic is the most beneficial.
When it comes to incorporating a heart-healthy diet there are a number of heart healthy food items out there. Diet is one of the most important factors that significantly affect health. What you consume on a regular basis can impact every aspect of your health including heart health. Also, there are certain diet plans like the DASH diet that help in the management of heart health. However, before you incorporate any major changes in diet, it is important to consult your healthcare professional. If you wouldn’t like to incorporate a whole new diet, With a little moderation and healthy food choices you can manage to control your blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and even triglycerides. While the above-mentioned food list for a healthy heart or heart-healthy snacks is incredibly healthy when you combine them with healthy habits and better lifestyle changes, the risk of heart disease practically goes away. Not just that, a healthy heart diet, regular exercise, and a little moderation in diet can help naturally improve your overall health which will be visible in the form of better skin, better fitness, and overall better immunity.
Note: If you are medically diagnosed with any heart disease, these dietary recommendations cannot substitute for your medications. In fact, you must consult your healthcare professional before you incorporate any major changes in your diet.