It is a known fact that a healthy heart is crucial to overall good health. Embracing a clean and healthy lifestyle at any age can essentially prevent or at least lower the risk of numerous heart-related issues. No matter how old you are, swapping good habits for bad habits to promote good health can make a huge difference. Exercising and choosing healthier foods are two of the best ways to contribute to good heart health, along with several additional things that one can do to lower the risk of heart disease. Many things put you at a higher risk for heart disease that includes high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, inactivity, smoking, obesity, family history of heart diseases, etc.
However, the good news is that you can decrease these risks by making changes in your eating habits.
Here is a list of 10 foods that you should add to your regular diet to keep your heart healthy.
Avocados have been linked to lowering the risk of heart diseases and reducing cholesterol levels as they are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Studies have shown that eating one avocado per day can lead to reductions in dense, small LDL cholesterol that are believed to significantly increase the risk of heart disease. Avocados are also rich in potassium which is essential to heart health. Eating one avocado per day supplies 975 milligrams of potassium which is about 28% of the amount needed in a day. Also, it has been proven that people who consume avocados regularly are half as likely to have metabolic syndrome.
Almonds are incredibly nutrient-dense, boasting a long list of minerals and vitamins important for heart health. Almonds are a good source of heart-healthy fibbers and monounsaturated fats, which are two important nutrients that can help prevent heart disease. Eating almonds regularly can have a powerful impact on your cholesterol levels, lowering down the level of bad LDL cholesterol and increase the level of HDL cholesterol that helps in reducing plaque build-up keeping the arteries clear.
Hemp seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds are great sources of heart-healthy nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Numerous studies have shown that including these types of seeds in your regular diet can improve many heart disease risk factors, including cholesterol, inflammation, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Hemp seeds are high in an amino acid called arginine, which has been associated with a reduced blood level of inflammatory markers. Flaxseeds help in keeping cholesterol level and blood pressure under control.
4. Green tea
For centuries, green tea has been associated with a number of health benefits, from improved insulin sensitivity to increased fat burning. Green tea is loaded with catechins and polyphenols that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation, prevent cell damage and protect the health of your heart. A higher intake of green tea catechins has been associated with significantly low levels of LDL and total cholesterol. It has also been proven that green tea helps to control both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and triglycerides. Drinking green tea or matcha regularly benefits heart health.
Garlic is used as a natural remedy to treat a variety of ailments. Research has confirmed that the potent medicinal properties found in garlic can even help to improve health. This is due to the presence of a compound called allicin that has a multitude of therapeutic effects. Taking garlic extract in doses or 600 to 1500 mg daily, is effective in reducing blood pressure, the level of LDL cholesterol, and inhibit platelet build-up, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, are loaded with important nutrients that play a crucial role in heart health. Berries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation are two major contributing factors to the development of heart diseases. Adding berries to your diet can also help in preventing metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Blueberries improve the function of cells that line with the blood vessels and help in controlling blood pressure and blood clotting. Several studies have shown that eating berries is associated with reductions in certain markers of inflammation, systolic blood pressure, bad LDL cholesterol, and body mass index.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is a natural plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are helpful in neutralising harmful free radicals, preventing inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which contribute to heart disease. Low levels of lycopene in the body, are also linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Eating raw tomatoes regularly shows increased levels of HDL cholesterol which helps in removing excess cholesterol and plaque from the arteries to keep the heart healthy and protect against heart disease and strokes.
8. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants like flavonoids that help to boost heart health. Several studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can lower the risk of heart diseases. Eating dark chocolate at least twice per week can lower the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries. However, chocolate can be high in sugar and calories which negates many of its health-promoting properties. It is necessary to pick high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%, and it should be consumed moderately to make the best out of its health benefits.
9. Whole grains
Whole grains contain all the three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: bran, germ, and endosperm. Common whole grains include oats, barley, whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, and rye. Whole grains have a higher fibre content as compared to refined grains that reduce bad LDL cholesterol and decreases the risk of any heart disease. Regularly consuming whole grain servings significantly decreases systolic blood pressure, which reduces the risk of stroke.
10. Leafy vegetables
Green and leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are known for being loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are rich in vitamin K that protects the arteries and promotes proper blood clotting. They are high in dietary nitrates which reduce blood pressure, improve functions of cells lining the blood vessels, and decrease arterial stiffness and lowers the risk of coronary heart disease significantly.