There is no denying that eating healthy solves a variety of health problems. Among the many health benefits of a nutritious diet, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases occupies one of the first positions. Cardiovascular disease is a condition that affects a person’s heart and blood vessels. According to statistics published by the American College of Cardiology, one in four deaths (25%) in the United States in 2008 was caused as a result of heart disease.
There are several risk factors that contribute to heart disease, but an unhealthy diet is one of the main causes that can be controlled. If you want to include heart-healthy foods in your diet, here is a list that can help you.
Consuming fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps improve overall cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, which is one of the causes of damage to blood vessels and stroke. It is recommended to consume at least two servings of fish per week. Some of the fish varieties rich in omega-3 include salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, herring and tuna.
2. Dry Beans:
Nuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, proteins and various vitamins and minerals. If consumed in moderation, they can be an ideal high energy snack. The consumption of nuts can help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol in our bodies. This in turn prevents the formation of blockages in blood vessels and arteries. Some of the healthiest nuts include nuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
The seeds are rich in fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E and help promote heart health. Chia and flax seeds are known for their omega-3 fatty acid content.
“If consumed in adequate portions, they help reduce plaque buildup in arteries and reduce bad cholesterol levels”.
4. Whole Grains:
Including whole grains in your diet has numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and improving blood cholesterol levels. Apart from this, the incorporation of gluten-free and unprocessed whole grains in the regular diet has been shown to cause a significant decrease in the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Adding berries to your diet is a great way to keep your heart healthy as they are packed with antioxidants and heart-healthy phytonutrients. They are also a great source of soluble fiber. Some heart-healthy berries that you can incorporate into your diet include blueberries, acai berries, strawberries and raspberries.
Some vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are essential to promote heart health. Apart from the fiber content of vegetables, they also contain other nutrients such as potassium, folate, vitamin C and magnesium that ensure healthy functioning in general. Some other heart-healthy vegetables that you should include in your diet include asparagus, carrots, potatoes and pumpkin.
Fruits such as oranges and grapefruit contain large amounts of vitamin C which is a powerful dietary antioxidant. Avocado, although high in calories, is loaded with “good” fats that help cholesterol levels. The apples are a rich source of soluble fiber and are associated with reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of stroke.
Bean varieties such as red beans and black beans have a high fiber content, B vitamins and various essential minerals. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk are also healthy foods that can be incorporated into your heart-friendly diet.
9. Dark Chocolate:
The cocoa used in the preparation of chocolate is rich in plant compounds called flavonoids, which have been shown in studies that have beneficial effects on heart disease. It is essential that we consume limited amounts of chocolate with more than 60% cocoa and less sugar to obtain maximum benefits.
10. Red Wine:
It has been discovered that a substance called resveratrol present in red wine is the key ingredient to reduce the overall risk of cardiovascular diseases. The antioxidants present in red wine can help increase HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol in our body. It can also help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. That said, be sure to consume alcohol with caution, as too much can be very harmful to your health.