The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Although numbers have declined in recent years, heart disease continues to be a problem for millions of people. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and heart attacks are preventable if people take the right dietary precautions.
Nutritionists outline numerous foods that have a positive impact on overall heart health. Roughly six million American adults currently live with heart failure, and about 50% of those people may pass away within five years after diagnosis. Most cases result from consuming excess saturated fats, cholesterol, or sodium-rich foods. By avoiding these foods and directing your focus to the foods in this article, it’s possible to improve heart function and reduce the risk of heart disease.
7 Foods For Optimal Heart Health
Do you enjoy oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangelos, or tangerines? If you like eating at least one of those fruits, start enjoying it more often. According to several studies, the flavonoids in oranges and grapefruits may help to lower the risk of ischemic stroke (caused by blood clot) by 19%. Another study linked higher consumption of vitamin C to a lower risk of heart disease. Stick with citrus, but avoid processed citrus juices that contain preservatives.
You’re nuts if you have a form of heart disease and you aren’t eating nuts, unless of course you have nut allergies. Nutritionists say that unsalted, raw nuts like pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts have beneficial heart-healthy fats. Additionally, they contain minerals, fiber, antioxidants, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation and enhance circulation.
Homocysteine is a common amino acid that exists in the blood. The majority of people have excess homocysteine levels because of excess meat consumption. Asparagus is naturally rich in folate, which works to prevent excess homocysteine accumulation in the body. Since high homocysteine levels increase the risk of heart-related diseases, eat more asparagus and other folate-rich foods for optimal heart health.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a beet helps the heart beat. These nutrient-dense root veggies contain a lot of nitrites, which occur naturally in air, soil, water, and certain foods. Nitrites may help the body reduce blood pressure, ultimately reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Avocados contain fat, but they contain the right fats that benefit your heart. The two fats in avocados are mono and polyunsaturated fats and they are the fats you need in your diet, unlike trans and saturated fats that can worsen heart health. It’s possible for mono and polyunsaturated fats to reduce the risk of heart disease by aiding cholesterol reduction. These fats help the body absorb nutrients without raising LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the body. That’s great news, considering LDL causes plaque build-up and blockages in the arteries.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Just like avocados, extra virgin olive oil contains a lot of beneficial monounsaturated fats, which work to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the primary components in the Mediterranean Diet, which is one of the healthiest diets in existence. In fact, people that inhabit several blue zones subscribe to this diet. One landmark study found that the Mediterranean diet worked to reduce the risk of heart attacks by 30%. These people also consumed nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables along with olive oil.
These refreshing fruits are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols that benefit the heart. Some of the primary flavonoids are anthocyanins, which offer powerful antioxidant effects. They give pomegranates and other red/blue foods their rich pigments. For many years, herbal medicine incorporated anthocyanin-rich foods in various treatments to optimize blood vessel health. One study monitored heart disease patients who drank fresh pomegranate juice daily for three months. The results indicated that pomegranate juice improved blood flow to the heart. The anthocyanins also helped to reduce oxidative stress.