Many people fall prey to cardiovascular diseases. It is usually a direct outcome of the way one spends their lives and the kind of diet that one follows. Sedentary lifestyles coupled with rich and unhealthy diet leads to heart problems. It has been seen that seventy percent of the heart diseases are preventable if one makes the right choice in food. Not only will your heart stay healthy by eating the right food, the risk for atherosclerosis or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries is reduced appreciably which usually leads to strokes and heart attacks. A diet which is healthy for the heart is usually rich in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and low in unhealthy fats, cholesterol and sodium.
Top 15 Super Foods For A Healthy Heart
Oatmeal possesses many beneficial properties that make it a heart healthy choice for breakfast.
• It is known to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• It contains useful minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium as well as soluble fiber
• Buy a packet of instant oats
• Cook a cup of oats in milk as per the consistency you like
• Add sugar or honey as desired
Such a meal for breakfast keeps one feeling full for a longer period of time than other items. When fruits are added to it the nutrition value of the meal increases.
2. Black Beans
Black beans offer many useful nutrition which makes it good for the heart. One or more servings of black beans is recommended by the health experts especially for those at risk of developing heart disease or those having already suffered from heart ailments.
• Black bean is rich in B complex vitamins
• Other minerals that it contains are magnesium, calcium and niacin
• Black beans are rich in soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids
• They provide high protein without the bad cholesterol as found in animal meat
One can consume black beans prepared as part of a gravy dish item or even in the boiled form as a side dish. It can be added to soups or salads as well.
3. Red Wine
Did you know that red wine is good for the heart? While you might be told to abstain from drinks beyond a certain level, one alcoholic beverage that offers beneficial properties is red wine.
• It increases the levels of good or HDL cholesterol levels in the system
• There are antioxidants such as catechins and resveratrol which help to keep the artery walls in good shape
• Cancer prevention properties are found in red wine
It is advisable that a glass of red wine can be drunk each day but not more. Again, if one is on certain medications like aspirin and others, it is advisable that red wine is abstained from.
Among the fishes that one can consume, salmon is said to be great for the heart.
• There is a large amount of omega-3s like DHA and EPA in the fish which makes it heart healthy
• The omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of disorders stemming from heart rhythm
• These beneficial fatty acids help to reduce the blood pressure and keeps away clotting risks
• Blood triglycerides are reduced and inflammation is controlled
A serving of salmon or two per week can help to reduce the risk of dying from heart attack by about one third. The fish can be enjoyed in grilled or baked form along with pasta, rice, salads or soups.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin oil of the olives is made from the first press of olives. It offers many benefits for the heart.
• It consists of antioxidants like polyphenols
• There are mono unsaturated fats as well in the oil which makes it rich in good fats that are safe for the heart
• It has been seen that regular consumption of the extra virgin olive oil will help to lower cholesterol as well as protect the blood vessels
The oil can be used as a medium for cooking, in salads as well as with bread.
6. Dark Chocolate
If you have a sweet tooth that is constrained due to food restrictions you could still indulge in dark chocolate regularly.
• Dark chocolate containing seventy percent cocoa makes it good for the heart
• The flavonoid present in cocoa helps to reduce blood pressure
• Blood flow to the heart is improved
• The damage caused by free radicals is reduced
It is thus okay to indulge in dark chocolate and have a small piece every day.
7. Chia Seeds
Such seeds offer many nutritional benefits as well as minimal calories.
• Chia seeds help reduce bad cholesterol levels
• Plaque buildup is reduced as well
• Blood pressure and triglycerides are reduced
• Chia seeds can be eaten by spoonfuls
• They can be added in smoothies
• They can also be added to soups, yoghurt and salads
In such ways one can increase this beneficial food item in their daily diet.
Blueberries have many beneficial properties that help one to maintain a healthy heart.
• Blueberries contain lutein and beta-carotene as well as ellagic acid, anthocyanin
• Other necessary vitamins and minerals are potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and fiber
• All such nutrients are good for the heart health
• One can add fresh blueberries in their cereal, yogurt or pancakes
• It can be added in smoothies and other desserts
Other berries like raspberries, cranberries and strawberries have similar nutrients that are good for the heart as well.
Among the fruits, oranges are known to be good for the heart.
• This fruit contains beta-cryptoxanthin, carotenoids, flavonoids, fiber, folate and potassium
• The above nutrients as well as vitamin C make the fruit especially good for the heart
• Blood pressure is controlled as well as the functionality of the blood vessels
One can eat it like a fruit or drink the juice as well. One can increase its nutritional value by using cinnamon or lime juice along with it.
This nut has healthy fats and other nutrients which are good for the heart.
• Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and poly unsaturated fats which help to promote a healthy heart
• One will be able to reduce the risk of cholesterol and inflammation of the arteries
Walnuts added to cakes, muffins, cookies, pastas and salads are different ways that one can enjoy this nut and its benefits.
11. Whole Grains
Whole grain is the entire kernel whereas refined grains are milled. When the germ and the bran are removed that also leads to certain beneficial nutrients being removed.
• Whole grains like brown rice are rich in vitamin B, E and fiber
• Whole grains tend to be rich in iron
The fiber rich whole grains help to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart troubles.
Drinking in moderation can be good for the heart.
• Alcohol makes the blood less likely to clot
• Good cholesterol levels are boosted
• Reduces the inflammation of the arteries
However, one should exercise moderation when drinking. Only two pegs for men are healthy while for women only one. Red wine is the most beneficial among all other alcoholic beverages.
If you are avoiding animal meat you could try to use tofu. This could be added to your meal to provide the following benefits.
• Tofu is rich in minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium
• Niacin and folate are other valuable nutrients included in it
One can enjoy the flavor by slicing it thin and marinating or grilling it. Made out of soy, it is a great way to increase the protein levels in the food.
These seeds can be added to different meals for added nutritional benefits.
• Omega-3 fatty acids
• Fiber rich
These seeds can be added to cereals, cookies, salads and muffins.
Peppers of the different varieties such as bell peppers of the red, yellow and green variety are good for the heart.
• Peppers are rich in beta-carotine
• It contains vitamins and minerals like B-complex, potassium and folate
Peppers can be added to every meal in the boiled, sautéed or cooked form as well as in salads in the raw form to enjoy their nutritional benefits.
Do you think that heart diseases herald the end of indulgences in food? With the knowledge of the super foods for the heart listed above, you can make healthy menus and recipes which will spice up your life as well as keep your heart health in check. It is also imperative to couple such diets with an active lifestyle. Going for walks everyday and doing household chores will keep you fit and active.