Eating Your Way to a Healthier Heart

Eating Your Way to a Healthier Heart

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Looking for ways to keep your heart healthy? Here are some of the best foods to eat for proper heart health!

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, or collard greens are often referred to as “superfoods,” and with good reason: they’re packed full of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

In particular, leafy greens are a great source of vitamin K, which can help protect your arteries and help promote proper blood clotting. On top of that, they’re also high in dietary nitrates, which may help reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness, and improve blood vessels.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a plant nutrient with antioxidant properties. It’s actually the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red color. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, which can prevent oxidative damage and inflammation.

Among other health benefits, lycopene is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Plus, one study showed that eating raw tomatoes increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are higher in fiber than refined grains, and may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Common whole grains include quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, and barley. Just make sure to read the label carefully — “wheat flour” and “multigrain” might not mean its actually a whole-grain product. Look for phrases such as “whole grain” or “whole wheat.”

Avocados

Millennials love avocados, and it might be time for you to jump on this trend, too. Aside from just being tasty, avocados are also an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are linked to reduced cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease.

This versatile fruit is also rich in potassium, an essential heart-healthy nutrient. Potassium can decrease blood pressure and lower your risk of stroke.

Some Berries

Some berries — namely blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries — are jam-packed (see what I did there?) with heart-healthy nutrients. By eating lots of these berries, you’re reducing several risk factors for heart disease.

Berries are rich in antioxidants that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress. Some studies show that berries could also decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol, and help control blood pressure and blood clotting.

Fatty Fish

Add fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel to your diet in order to keep your heart healthy. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce heart disease risk factors.

These polyunsaturated fatty acids have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure.

If you’re not a big fan of eating seafood, you can also add fish oil supplements to get your daily dose. Flaxseed and canola oils also contain another omega-3 fatty acid called ALA.

Some Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They can also contain compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lowering your risk for heart disease.

Studies suggest that adding nuts to your diet, such as walnuts or almonds, can reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

Plus, seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dark Chocolate

I’ll bet you didn’t expect to see chocolate on this list! Now, I’m not telling you to overdo it or anything, but dark chocolate¬†is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can boost heart health.

Some studies have shown a link between eating dark chocolate with a lower risk of heart disease and a lower risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries.

It’s important to remember that chocolate can often be high in sugar and calories, though, which could negate its health benefits — so it’s best to moderate your intake.