There are several foods which have a positive impact on your health, however it’s important you include foods which are Heart-Friendly in your diet. Everyone knows that Fruits and Vegetables are a staple addition to ones diet, however they’re not the only food group which can be classified as Heart-Friendly!
Of course there are several factors which attribute to a heart-friendly diet, although as a general rule, you should pay close attention to the sodium content in the foods you eat, as too much sodium can cause high blood pressure.
Foods which are high in saturated fats are also something one should avoid, as saturated fats tend to increase the levels of LDL – This is known as bad cholesterol, to most people – and triglycerides in your blood, eating foods with components such as these tend to increase the risk of assimilating blood clots. The foods which you should consume in order to avoid a high sodium and saturated fat diet are as follows:
- Seeds & Nuts
These are a great source of phytoestrogens, phytosterols, omega 3 fatty acids and similar healthy fats, as well as Vitamin E and fibre’s. They aid in lowering LDL levels thus keeping your arteries free from clots.
The American Heart Association suggest that you should consume approximately four servings per week. Flax seeds and chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and fibre so they’re very good for your heart. There’s several ways in which you can enjoy them, so there’s no excuse for a lack of variation in your diet.
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts all contain hearty fibre which fills you up. And vitamin E, which helps to lower bad cholesterol.
Many people have avoided nuts because of their high fat content, however research shows that those who consume nuts over those who don’t remain leaner and are at a lower risk for heart problems. On the other hand, it’s best if you avoid nuts which contain salt.
Fruit is a an amazing source to attain vitamins but more particularly, berries. They are full of flavonoids and polyphenols and Vitamin E & C. These nutrients act as antioxidants and protect your body from free radicals. Consuming these foods will assist in lowering the level of LDL in your blood.
According to a recent study, women aged 25 through to 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had a 32% lower risk of having a heart attack compared with those who ate less. Colorful fruits contain carotenoids, which have a protective effect on your heart.
Citrus fruits also contain high amounts of flavonoids, these have a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke (caused by a clot) than women who don’t get as much of these compounds, a recent study found. Citrus foods are also high in vitamin C, which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Although, you must be aware of citrus juices that contain added sugar.
Pomegranates also contain numerous antioxidants, including heart promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins. A study found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months portrayed improvements in blood flow to the heart. Ultimately, it’s important to have variety in your diet. If you’re not a fan of pomegranate’s then you should opt for an apple instead, as they also contain plenty of health-promoting compounds.
Oats are unbelievable in several ways. First of all, they are high in soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol. It soaks up the cholesterol so it is not eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream.
It’s best to avoid instant oats, as they often contain high quantities of sugar, instead you should select old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats. Always read the labels! If you are one who likes sweet oatmeal then opt for berries or other fruits as opposed to sugar or a product which contains large quantities of added sugar. Other whole grains are also a great form of fibre and good for your heart, such as bread, pasta and grits. Although you need to make sure that they contain entire grains.
White bread, white pasta and white rice is very unhealthy and starchy, they hold no nutritional value, so you should try to avoid these.
Fish is a fabulous heart-healthy food, Salmon in particular.
Fishes such as salmon, mackerel and sardines contain copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown in studies to lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries) and decrease triglycerides.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish and preferably fatty fish at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids are also available as a dietary supplement for those of you who dislike fish.
- Dark Chocolate
Several studies portray that dark chocolate actually benefits your heart health.
It helps to reduce the nonfatal heart attacks and stroke in people at high risk of these problems. This is only of dark chocolate with 70% or above cacao. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation.
Sadly for all of those who love milk and white chocolate, they are not included within this bracket so try to stick to the highly cacao concentrated bars of dark chocolate.
Soy products, including tofu and soy milk, are a useful way to add protein to your diet without unhealthy fats and cholesterol.
Soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals, all of which are very good for one’s health. Soy can also reduce blood pressure in people who eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates. And compared with milk or any other proteins, soy protein can actually decrease LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’.
Tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus they’re an excellent source of antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help get rid of ‘bad’ cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and also lower the risk of experiencing a heart attack. They’re also a great addition to a calorie controlled diet as they’re low in sugar and calories so they don’t detract from an already-healthy diet.
Beans, lentils and peas are examples of legumes, they come from plants. They’re an excellent source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fat. There was a study which found that people who ate legumes at least four times per week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once per week. Legumes also help to control blood sugar in people with diabetes. Lowering blood sugar levels is key in helping people avoid diabetes complications, one of which is heart disease.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
A study was conducted for people who are at high risk for heart disease who followed the Mediterranean diet – this is a diet which is high in grains, fruits & vegetables – supplemented by nuts and at least four tablespoons a day of olive oil reduced their risk of heart attacks, strokes, and dying by 30%. Olive oil is a crucial source of mono-saturated fats, which can help reduce both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Olives themselves, both green and black are another source of ‘good’ fat.
- Red Wine
Small amounts of any alcohol, in particular Red Wine, are thought to lower heart disease risk. However, it’s important that you maintain the correct amount daily, as more than a drink or two per day can actually increase your risk.
Research suggests that polyphenol found in red wine, resveratol, gives that beverage an added benefit, research suggests that any type of alcohol in moderation works. Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean that non-drinkers need to start drinking, there are several alternatives, such as natural peanut butter and grapes. This is simply a positive idea for those who tend to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day at work.
- Green Tea
Green tea originates from Asia, however it has become very powerful in the West as it brings significant health benefits to those who regularly consume it.
A recent study which was carried out found that people who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 20% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke compared with people who do not drink green tea as often.
Antioxidants known as catechins are responsible for the effect of lowering the rate of death due to heart disease, among avid drinkers of green tea. Green tea is also a staple addition to those who are looking for weight-loss solutions.
- Green Vegetables
More particularly, broccoli, spinach and kale are incredible vegetables for your health. Green vegetables give an extra boost to your heart as they are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fibre and contain tonnes of vitamins and minerals. Kale also has some omega- 3 fatty acids.
Many people are often rather skeptical surrounding the subject of coffee, however it does promote some heart health benefits. One study found that those who drink six or more cups of coffee per day have a 10-15% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Other research that was conducted found that even two cups per day could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30%. It’s not evident where the benefit comes from in the coffee but the reality is, that if you drink coffee on a regular basis then you can continue to do so as it is not harming your heart health.
Avocado’s are a fabulous source of healthy fats for the body and the heart. Similar to olive oil, they’re rich in the monounsaturated fats that may lower heart disease risk factors, such as cholesterol. They’re also high in antioxidants and potassium. There are several different ways to eat avocado, one delicious way is with eggs: poached eggs and avocado makes for a super healthy breakfast to energize the beginning of your day!
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