When it comes to your heart, your diet and lifestyle definitely matter. Although no single food is a cure-all, certain foods have been shown to significantly improve cardiovascular health, by lowering blood pressure and keeping your cholesterol in line. Add these five items to your shopping cart in order to lower your risk of heart disease and to help keep your heart at its best.
Salmon – Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel are the superstars of heart-healthy foods. That’s because they contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown to lower the risk of irregular heartbeats and plaque build-up in the arteries, which can both lead to heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week or taking a dietary supplement in order to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of omega-3s.
Avocado – As if you needed another reason to love avocados, the creamy superfood is also excellent for the heart. Not only are avocados jam-packed with monounsaturated fatty acids — which help lower cholesterol levels and may help prevent blood clotting– but they also contain potassium, which may help control blood pressure. Adding some avocado to your diet can also help to increase satiety and satisfaction, which may help with weight management—a very important aspect of heart health.
Dark Chocolate – Several studies have now shown that dark chocolate may benefit your heart, including one in 2012 that found that daily chocolate consumption could reduce heart attacks and stroke in people who were at high risk for these problems. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation. Unfortunately, milk chocolate does not have these same heart-healthy benefits, so try and stick to dark chocolate that is made up of 60-70% cocoa!
Nuts- Go ahead and get a little nutty. Nuts contain unsaturated fats, which improve cholesterol by lowering “bad” cholesterol and raising the good kind. Walnuts, in particular, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may prevent blood clots and the development of irregular heart rhythms. Add a handful of nuts to your salad at lunch or enjoy them as a mid-morning snack in some Greek yogurt, or simply enjoy them as is!
Oranges – Though we typically turn to oranges for preventing the common cold, this fruit is also a great food for your heart, thanks to two different nutrients: pectin and potassium. Pectin, a soluble fiber, basically blocks cholesterol absorption, while potassium can help keep blood pressure in check.