Because heart disease accounts for about one-third of deaths worldwide, it’s integral to take preventative measures by eating foods that promote heart health. Americans have been eating themselves into various health conditions that take a toll on the cardiovascular system. With that knowledge, it is possible, then, to eat foods that support a healthier heart and overall health.
Every food item you eat can influence your health. A grilled steak with a side of buttery mashed potatoes is going to affect you differently than, for example, a quinoa salad with a lot of fresh vegetables. When you start giving your body heart-healthy foods, you can help naturally lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and decrease blood pressure.
Before we tell you all about the best heart-healthy foods, it’s important to remember that you can’t just add some of these foods to an unhealthy diet and hope for the best. Eating your way healthy is a full-time commitment, but it isn’t as difficult as it seems. Try making the plant-based switch and focus on eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
A recent study on people with high blood pressure found that the nutrients in beets work to naturally lower blood pressure and reduce arterial stiffness. After consuming beets, the nitrites enter the bloodstream and work to expand your blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Avocados are always worth the extra cost at a restaurant. Restaurants must charge more because of how good they are for you! Even though that probably isn’t the case, avocados are rich in folate, which is a water-soluble B-vitamin that works to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can inhibit healthy blood flow. Additionally, avocados contain monounsaturated fats and beta-sitosterol, both of which help to decrease LDL cholesterol.
Containing a lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and plant pigment, tomatoes have been known to help reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage. Studies have shown that low blood levels of lycopene have been linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack. Regularly consuming tomatoes can help to increase levels of “the good” HDL cholesterol. If you have arthritis, you may want to avoid a lot of tomatoes, due to the acidity.
Almonds are loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and are one of the best foods to nourish your heart. Even the FDA said that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds (20 almonds) a day, combined with a diet low in saturated fat, could help reduce the risk of heart disease. For your reference, 20 almonds satisfy 12% of your daily protein requirement and have the same amount of calcium as a quarter-cup of milk. Because almonds contain potassium and have low sodium content, eating them can regulate blood sugar and keep cholesterol levels down.
Some people forgot about spinach when they discovered kale, but spinach is one of the best heart-healthy foods out there. Spinach is one of the richest sources of lutein, which is an antioxidant that may help to prevent clogged arteries. Regular spinach consumption, even a half-cup a day, has been proven to aid blood flow and boost libido.
The Bottom Line
The link between diet and heart disease is as clear as day. The foods you eat can affect the health of your heart, in addition to every other organ and system in the body. Adding these foods to a well-balanced, plant-based diet may help to decrease your risk of heart disease.