Your diet plays a huge role in keeping your heart healthy. But while certain foods have nutrients that can reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s important to eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Here are 16 heart-healthy foods that should be worked into your diet.
16 foods for heart health
- Blueberries: Blueberries contain phytonutrients and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that maintain the health of your arteries. Blueberries are low-calorie foods that are also a great source of soluble fiber. They are a tasty substitute for your sweetened desserts. Try to eat berries at least three times a week, whether part of a snack or meal.
- Oranges: Oranges contain the fiber pectin, which lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol levels. The potassium content also helps control blood pressure.
- Swiss chard: Being rich in potassium and magnesium, leafy green veggies like Swiss chard can help control blood pressure. The fiber content and presence of antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin make for a heart-healthy combination.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, a vitamin that helps lower your homocysteine levels (high homocysteine levels are linked to increased risk of heart diseases). Asparagus is a good source of soluble fiber and has a high antioxidant content, which also helps lower your risk of heart disease.
- Broccoli: Studies have shown that eating steamed broccoli can reduce your cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
- Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts are great at keeping you feeling full and strengthening your heart. Nuts are also sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, so they are considered healthy fats that can help improve your cholesterol and prevent heart diseases.
- Flaxseed: Because flaxseed has good content of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals (called lignans), this combination of nutrients makes it a heart-healthy option that can help you keep your weight under control.
- Oats: Oats belong to the family of whole grains, which contain beta-glucan and soluble dietary fiber, which improves cholesterol levels and heart health.
- Barley: Barley is superior to rice when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining a healthy weight. You can add the whole nutty grain to soups.
- Black beans: Black beans are a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrient but lack cholesterol. The fiber content lowers the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and the risk of heart disease. Beans contain a good amount of protein, similar to meat and poultry. However, unlike animal products, beans are free of saturated fats.
- Edamame: According to one recent study, eating soy-based products at least one time a week was linked to an 18% reduction in heart disease risk. A cup of edamame provides you with 8 grams of fiber and thus can make you feel full for a longer time.
- Tofu: This vegetarian soy protein is packed with heart-healthy minerals, fiber, and unsaturated fats. It can easily blend with other foods and soak up their flavor. However, people with thyroid disorders may need to consult their doctor before incorporating tofu or soy into their diet.
- Fatty fish: Fatty or oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and enhance high-density lipoprotein (HDL; good) cholesterol levels. Examples of fatty fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and trout.
- Olive oil: When it comes to cooking oil, olive oil can be the healthiest option for your heart. Olive oil protects the integrity of your arteries because it is rich in heart-healthy antioxidants. It is an excellent substitute for butter, which contains saturated fat. It can help lower cholesterol levels.
- Herbs and spices: Herbs and spices are a tasty healthful addition to your foods. You can use them in place of salt and fat to impart delicious flavor to your regular meals. Examples include fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage and rosemary and spices such as cinnamon, garlic, cayenne and turmeric. These also contain polyphenols, which are substances known to strengthen immunity, halt aging and maintain normal lipid and blood sugar levels.
- Red wine: If you decide to drink alcohol, go for red wine, which is a heart-healthy option. Alcohol can improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels according to some studies. Although red wine contains antioxidants such as resveratrol and catechins that may protect the artery walls, alcohol is bad for the liver and pancreas. Ask your doctor if you can drink alcohol. This is particularly important if you are taking medications such as aspirin, have alcoholic liver disease or are on a de-addiction program for alcoholism.
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Tofu may help your heart. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/tofu-may-help-your-heart
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