With all the progress in medical technology and treatments, you would think that heart health, in general, has already greatly improved. However, many decades and even centuries of studies later, heart disease remains one of the world’s top killers for both men and women.
The best foods for hearth health are a great first step to improving your heart’s overall health and efficiency.
First, when you read about “cardiovascular disease” that is essentially the same as heart disease. Cardiovascular disease involves the heart and/or blood vessels, as problems with blood vessels directly impact the health of your heart.
The statistics are daunting, and everyone who is even remotely concerned about their health should take note!
Here are some stats that will get your attention:
- Nearly 1/4 of all Americans are living with some form of heart disease.
- Nearly 1/2 of African-American adults have some for of heart disease.
- Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in the world, resulting in over 17 million deaths each year. This number will surpass 20 million by the year 2030.
- Approximately 750,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular disease each year.
- Over 2,000 Americans die every day from heart disease – that is someone every 40 seconds. Scary, right?
- Cardiovascular disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent cardiovascular disease and improve your hearth health, and that is through eating the best foods for heart health.
You need to live a healthy lifestyle. Certain foods can influence your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and inflammation. All these are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that the right food choices can prevent over fifty percent of heart attacks.
Top 8 Best Foods for Heart Health
If you want to start eating right for the sake of your heart, here are some of the best foods for heart health.
1. Fatty Fish
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish, at least two times a week. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup) and decrease triglycerides.
If you’re not into seafood, you can use an alternative of fish oil or omega-3 supplements. These will supply you with a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains include oats, rye, barley, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, and buckwheat. Whole grains are a good source of dietary fiber, which improves elevated blood cholesterol levels and reduces heart disease and stroke. They also promote satiety, therefore reducing the risk of obesity. Not sure about the difference between whole grains and whole wheat? Learn more here.
Most vegetables contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that can protect your heart. Different types of vegetables protect your heart through different mechanisms. For example, leafy greens such as spinach contain a high level of nitrates that boost heart health and lower the risk of heart attack. Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages are high in fiber and antioxidants. Tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes are other vegetables you should include in your diet.
The more vegetables you eat, the lower the risk of heart disease. The best guide for the type of vegetables to eat, think color! You want to cover the entire spectrum of colors for healthy eating.
Berries are rich in antioxidants which help in reducing inflammation. They are also a source of fiber and vitamins, which are linked to lowering the risk of stroke. All berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries play a vital role in heart health.
These tasty fruits provide the heart and the body with healthy fats. They are high in monounsaturated fats, also called good fats, which lowers heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol.
Avocados are also rich in potassium and antioxidants. They are great for every organ on your insides, and if you don’t like the taste, give them a try and slowly “ease into” the idea of eating avocados for heart health. Many people say it is a taste that grows on you, and if you’re serious about the best foods for hearth health, then avocados are a must!
Walnuts are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and folate which promote a healthy heart. They are also high in polyunsaturated fats. For a healthier treat, choose unsalted walnuts. They are also great for your liver, and improving an epidemic problem in the US know as NAFLD (non-alcholic fatty liver disease). Learn more about this silent killer that has put 25 million Americans at risk by clicking here.
7. Olive Oil
If you cook with oil or if you’re looking for something to add to your salads or pasta, consider olive oil. Extra virgin ones are even better. It is packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants and associated with low blood pressure and heart disease risk. It will always be a cornerstone of the best foods for heart health, as well as skin health.
8. Dark Chocolate
You don’t have to disappoint your sweet tooth when you want to lower down the risk of heart diseases. Chocolate is made from cacao which is rich in flavanols that lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. It is also high in antioxidants which can prevent bad cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls. If you should have chocolate, choose the dark variant.
Make it a daily habit to consume the best foods for heart health. To make it easy for yourself, add a page on to your “Notes” on your smart phone so when you go to the grocery store you can access this page to make sure they are on your weekly shopping list!
Click to learn more about superfoods that should be a part of every diet.