Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in America yearly. In fact, more people die from heart disease than most of the top ten list combined. To say it’s the single largest threat to your life is an understatement; you’re almost three times likelier to die of heart disease than from cancer, the number two killer yearly. In the case of heart disease, though, you actually have the ability to do something about it. By adjusting your diet to heart healthy foods and getting regular exercise, you can actually fix your high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other issues that can contribute to heart disease. Regular cardio is the best form of exercise for your heart, so try running, using a machine, or going for a swim at the local pool a few times a week, and adjust your diet to heart healthy foods like these.
Salmon is the reigning king of heart healthy foods, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids that it is full of. There are other fatty fish that will give you some of the same benefits, such as sardines or mackerel, but salmon is the top source for those acids, which have been shown to break down plaque in your blood vessels and reduce the chance of an irregular heartbeat. You can also find these fish oils in supplements, if you’re not a big fan of fish.
Nuts of all types are full of fiber and vitamin E. They can lower your bad cholesterol levels and strengthen your digestive system. Walnuts in particular also contain those same omega-3 fatty acids, making them healthy in a number of ways. Not all fats are a bad thing, and the fats contained in nuts are very healthy indeed; eating nuts regularly is associated with lower weights, which is always good for your heart.
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all good for your heart, beyond being delicious. They are full of antioxidants, which can decrease your blood pressure and open up your blood vessels. Studies have shown that eating berries can lower the risk of a heart attack.
Another thing that can lower your blood pressure is potassium, and healthier dairy products like yogurt are full of potassium. Many fruits and vegetables also fall under the high potassium category, like bananas and oranges. Yogurt is particularly good because it also is effective against gum disease. Gum disease is actually another potential risk factor for heart disease.
Dark green vegetables are some of the best things for you to eat for your heart. They have a number of advantages; dark greens contain carotenoids, which act like antioxidants and clear out unhealthy compounds, they’re extremely high in fiber, and some leafy greens like kale contain omega-3 fatty acids.
The soluble fiber that oatmeal offers is great against bad cholesterol. The fiber acts as a sponge which can absorb that bad cholesterol and get rid of it. You should probably avoid the instant oatmeal packets, which are usually high in sugar to add taste. Instead, get old-fashioned oatmeal, which you can naturally season with spices and honey. Most whole grains will have the same effects, but you won’t get them from processed grains like white breads.
There are now a number of studies supporting the fact that dark chocolate is good for the heart. Daily chocolate consumption can lower your chances of heart attack and stroke. It does this because it contains flavonoids that can lower blood pressure, inflammation, and clotting. This only applies to dark chocolate, though; other forms of chocolate like milk or white chocolate do not confer the same benefits.
Legumes, like peanuts, beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas, are all extremely good sources of protein that don’t come with the saturated fats that many protein sources have. Studies have shown that those who consume legumes regularly have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t. Legumes can also be effective at managing blood sugar for diabetics, and diabetes is another contributor to heart disease.
The fats found in both olives and olive oil are much healthier than many, and can raise your good cholesterol levels, which can in turn lower the bad cholesterol and give you overall much better coronary healthy. Consumption of olive oil regularly has been scientifically linked to lower amounts of heart disease.
Wine is an interesting thing, because, while one or two glasses a day can lower your chance of heart disease, having any more of that will actually reverse the effects, and make you more likely to develop heart complications. It’s not enough of a difference to make it recommended to start drinking if you don’t already, but you also don’t need to avoid drinking in moderation.
Nobody’s actually aware why, but coffee has also been linked to lower amounts of heart disease, though the difference is relatively marginal. It’s another instance like red wine where, while you don’t necessarily have to start drinking it, if you do already it doesn’t hurt.
The antioxidants in green tea are what give it such famously healthy effects. It’s hailed as a miracle drink from the far east, and in that regard, it’s actually very successful. Certain studies have been done that back up the heart healthy effects of green tea, making it an excellent choice for a heart healthy diet.
Another item on this list that is completely stuffed with antioxidants, studies have shown that consuming pomegranates regularly can lead to better blood flow and lower blood pressure. Some say this is the ultimate heart healthy food, which is why the dissected pomegranate looks so much like a heart.
Like their soft inner flesh would suggest, avocados are fantastic sources of healthy, unsaturated fats which can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. They’re also high in potassium and antioxidants, making them all around great for your heart.