Many people fall prey to cardiovascular disease. It is usually a direct result of the way a person spends their life and the type of diet they follow. A sedentary lifestyle combined with a rich and unhealthy diet leads to heart problems. It has been found that 70 percent of heart disease is preventable if the right food choice is made. Not only does eating the right foods keep your heart healthy, the risk of atherosclerosis or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries is significantly reduced, which usually leads to strokes and heart attacks. A heart-healthy diet is usually high in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and low in unhealthy fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
Top 15 superfoods for a healthy heart
Oatmeal has many beneficial properties that make it a heart-healthy breakfast choice.
• Known to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• It contains beneficial minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and soluble fiber
• Buy a pack of instant oats
• Boil a cup of oatmeal in milk to the consistency you like
• Add sugar or honey as desired
Such a meal for breakfast gives you a feeling of fullness longer than other items. When fruit is added to it, the nutritional value of the meal increases.
2. Black beans
Black beans provide many beneficial nutrients that make it good for the heart. One or more servings of black beans is recommended by the health experts, especially for those who are at risk of developing heart disease or who have already suffered from heart disease.
• Black bean is rich in vitamin B complex
• Other minerals it contains are magnesium, calcium and niacin
• Black beans are rich in soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids
• They provide a high protein content without the bad cholesterol found in animal meat
One can consume black beans prepared as part of a gravy dish or even in cooked form as a side dish. It can also be added to soups or salads.
3. Red wine
Did you know that red wine is good for the heart? While you may be told to abstain from drinks above a certain level, red wine is an alcoholic beverage that offers beneficial properties.
• It increases the levels of good or HDL cholesterol in the system
• There are antioxidants such as catechins and resveratrol that help keep the artery walls in good condition
• Cancer prevention properties are found in red wine
It is advisable to drink a glass of red wine every day, but no more. Again, if one is taking certain medications such as aspirin and others, it is advisable not to drink red wine.
Of the fish that one can eat, salmon is said to be good for the heart.
• There is a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA in the fish, which makes the heart healthy
• The omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart arrhythmias
• These beneficial fatty acids help lower blood pressure and prevent clotting risks
• Blood triglycerides are reduced and inflammation is controlled
A serving of salmon or two a week can help reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by about a third. The fish can be eaten grilled or baked, along with pasta, rice, salads or soups.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of olives. It offers many benefits for the heart.
• It consists of antioxidants such as polyphenols
• There are also monounsaturated fats in the oil, making it rich in good fats that are safe for the heart
• Regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil has been shown to help lower cholesterol and protect blood vessels
The oil can be used as a medium in cooking, both in salads and with bread.
6. Dark Chocolate
If you have a sweet tooth limited by food restrictions, you can still enjoy dark chocolate on a regular basis.
• Dark chocolate with seventy percent cocoa is good for the heart
• The flavonoid present in cocoa helps lower blood pressure
• Blood flow to the heart is improved
• The damage caused by free radicals is reduced
So it’s okay to enjoy dark chocolate and eat a small piece every day.
7. Chia Seeds
Such seeds provide many nutritional benefits and minimal calories.
• Chia seeds help lower bad cholesterol
• Plaque build-up is also reduced
• Blood pressure and triglycerides are reduced
• Chia seeds can be eaten with spoons
• They can be added to smoothies
• They can also be added to soups, yogurt and salads
In such ways, one can increase this beneficial nutrient in their daily diet.
Blueberries have many beneficial properties that help maintain a healthy heart.
• Blueberries contain lutein and beta-carotene as well as ellagic acid, anthocyanin
• Other necessary vitamins and minerals are potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and fiber
• All these nutrients are good for heart health
• One can add fresh blueberries to their cereal, yogurt or pancakes
• It can be added to smoothies and other desserts
Other berries such as raspberries, cranberries and strawberries have similar nutrients that are also good for the heart.
The fruits are known to be good for the heart.
• This fruit contains beta-cryptoxanthin, carotenoids, flavonoids, fiber, folic acid and potassium
• The above nutrients and vitamin C make the fruit particularly good for the heart
• Blood pressure is monitored as well as the functionality of the blood vessels
You can eat it as a fruit or drink the juice as well. One can increase the nutritional value by adding cinnamon or lime juice.
This nut contains healthy fats and other nutrients that are good for the heart.
• Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats that contribute to a healthy heart
• One will be able to reduce the risk of cholesterol and inflammation of the arteries
Walnuts added to cakes, muffins, cookies, pasta and salads are several ways one can enjoy this nut and its benefits.
11. Whole Grains
Whole grain is the whole grain, while refined grains are ground. When the germ and bran are removed, it also removes certain beneficial nutrients.
• Whole grains such as brown rice are rich in vitamins B, E and fiber
• Whole grains are often rich in iron
The fiber-rich whole grains help lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart problems.
Drinking in moderation can be good for the heart.
• Alcohol makes the blood clot less quickly
• Good cholesterol levels are increased
• Reduces inflammation of the arteries
However, drinking should be done in moderation. Only two herrings for men are healthy, while for women only one. Red wine is the most beneficial of all other alcoholic beverages.
If you avoid animal meats, you can try using tofu. This can be added to your meal to provide the following benefits.
• Tofu is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium
• Niacin and folate are other valuable nutrients they contain
It can be enjoyed by slicing it thinly and marinating or grilling it. Made from soy, it is a great way to increase the protein content in the food.
These seeds can be added to various meals for additional nutritional benefits.
• Omega-3 fatty acids
• High fiber
These seeds can be added to breakfast cereals, cookies, salads and muffins.
Peppers of the different varieties such as peppers of the red, yellow and green variety are good for the heart.
• Peppers are rich in beta carotene
• It contains vitamins and minerals such as B complex, potassium and folate
Peppers can be added to any meal in the cooked, sautéed or boiled form, as well as in salads in the raw form to enjoy their nutritional benefits.
Do you think heart disease could herald the end of food indulgences? With the knowledge of the heart superfoods mentioned above, you can create healthy menus and recipes that will brighten up your life and keep your heart health in check. It is also imperative to link such diets to an active lifestyle. Walking every day and doing household chores will keep you fit and active.