Heart disease is one of the most rampant public health concerns in the United States. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people die from heart disease every 34 seconds. Furthermore, the cost of treating cardiovascular disease through healthcare services and other medications amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
Several lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of developing heart disease. These include obesity, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet. Fortunately, making dietary changes can be a good way to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
A diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources like fish and poultry can help to promote heart health. Below are ten heart-healthy foods that you should consider adding to your diet:
Dark Leafy Greens:
When it comes to improving your health, adding dark, leafy greens to your diet should be at the top of your list. These nutrient-dense vegetables, which include spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard, are packed with beneficial compounds that can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health conditions.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which can potentially decrease the likelihood of heart disease.
Olive oil is a beneficial source of fat that can aid in reducing inflammation and decreasing levels of cholesterol.
If you’re seeking a simple way to improve your heart health, look no further than olive oil. Erin Kenney, MS, RD, LDN, HCP, CPT, a registered dietitian and CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends incorporating this versatile oil into your diet to keep your ticker happy.
Kenney suggests that extra-virgin olive oil intake is linked to decreased chances of cardiovascular disease and mortality among individuals at high risk. This is due to the antioxidants, polyphenols, and vitamins present in olive oil, which provide a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
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Here’s some good news for guacamole lovers – adding more avocados to your diet may be good for your heart health. According to Amy Adams, RDN, LDN, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which can help to increase the clearance rate of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in the body.
Avocados are abundant in monounsaturated fats and fiber that promote heart health by reducing cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, as stated by Amy Adams.
In a reseearch published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, overweight/obese individuals who consumed more avocados were able to significantly lower their LDL cholesterol levels compared to those who ate a low-fat or moderate-fat diet.
Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are packed with antioxidants and can help to improve blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Adding berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, to your diet may help improve your heart health, according to nutrition experts. Berries are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, which can lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews in 2010, these mechanisms enhance vascular function, reduce blood pressure, combat free radical formation, and ultimately lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Blueberries, in particular, are a standout food when it comes to improving heart health, according to Kristi Ruth, RD, LDN of Carrotsandcookies.com. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, a flavonoid that has been shown to benefit heart health.
Beans are a good source of fiber and protein, and they can help to lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control.
Beans are a nutritious and heart-healthy food that should be included in everyone’s diet. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and promote digestive health.
Per a study in the journal Nutrients, consuming beans can improve the risk of heart disease.
Beans are particularly high in soluble fiber, which acts as food for the beneficial gut bacteria and promotes a healthy gut flora, an essential factor in overall heart health.
Additionally, plant sterols/stanols found in beans can help to reduce cholesterol by competing with cholesterol for absorption in the small intestine. According to a study, consuming 2-4 grams of plant sterols/stanols per day can result in a 10% decrease in cholesterol levels.
Fatty fish such as salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and improve overall heart health.
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Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can aid in lowering cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Antioxidants found in grapes can aid in reducing inflammation and enhancing blood pressure, making grapes a beneficial source.
Walnuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants, and they can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, which have been shown to improve blood pressure levels and decrease inflammation.
National Wear Red Day, which takes place in early February, aims to raise awareness of heart disease and encourage people to take steps to protect their heart health.
Incorporating these nutritious foods into your diet is just a part of the larger picture of reducing your risk of heart disease. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as engaging in regular exercise, managing stress, and maintaining a balanced diet can all help promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.
Photo: Natural Health