If you have a history of cardiac conditions or high cholesterol, it is time you follow a diet that is healthy for your heart. We will discuss the various food groups that aid in the recovery of your cardiovascular health concerns.
It is important to bring a considerable change in your diet to reduce the risk of cardiac health diseases and risk factors they accompany. Including heart-healthy foods in our diets is something every person should do to improve their longevity and the quality of life.
A variety of food types can help your heart perform better, but that is not enough if you don’t limit junk foods and processed foods that contain a high amount of preservatives.
It’s been proven through multiple studies that junk and processed foods happen to be one of the primary causes of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased blood sugar levels.
However, when we speak of a heart-healthy diet, avoiding junk food is just half the battle. You need to increase your intake of healthy foods that benefit your heart.
You need food that can fuel your complex cardiovascular system with precisely what it needs for smooth operation.
Let’s now move on to the dietary choices you can make. Each food group we have chosen is backed by scientific evidence to convince you to make the best choice for your health today.
Here are 10 heart-healthy foods you need to add to your diet.
1. Barley and Oats
Barley and oats contain a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan that has a variety of health benefits. Studies revealed that the insulin response of your body is blunted by beta-glucan while boosting the immunity. It also plays a role in cholesterol reduction and that is what matters for the health of your heart.
Beta-glucan binds to cholesterol and bile acid in your intestines. This prevents the absorption of the cholesterol into your body. So if you’re suffering from high cholesterol, it would serve you really well to include barley and oats in your breakfast regularly.
As research reveals that only about 3 grams of beta-glucan a day can reduce your cholesterol levels by at least 10%. Have an oat bran cookie as a snack or add just 2 spoons full of oatmeal to your lunch entrée or smoothie. That’s all you need.
2. Salmon and other fatty fish
When it comes to a healthy heart, fish oils, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role. Fatty fishes like mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and lake trout are staples of protein that a heart needs. Even crustaceans like squids, lobsters, and oysters are healthy for your heart.
They all entail healthy omega-3, especially the long chained variety that is referred to as LC omega-3. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have been tested in human trials. They help the heart maintain rhythm and prevent a heart attack.
Studies have also shown omega-3 leads to lower blood pressure, prevents blood clotting, all the while keeping blood vessels healthy. They also lower the inflammation and bring down triglycerides level.
3. Dark leafy greens
Salad greens, kale, spinach, collard, mustard greens and Swiss chard, are rich in vitamins C, A, K and E. They are known to contain an assortment of antioxidants that help your body get rid of various harmful toxins.
Besides that, they have an abundance of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. This makes them some of the best foods for the health of your heart.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium all help in regulating blood pressure. While being green vegetables, they are packed with fibre which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Fibre interestingly also helps you feel full, prevents constipation and assists weight loss.
4. Nuts and seeds
As long as the nuts and seeds are unsalted, including them with your diet can bring down your blood pressure. Nuts and seeds contain magnesium and potassium and other minerals that help regulate your blood pressure.
Studies conducted on pistachios reveal that this nut can reduce the tightening of blood vessels (AKA peripheral vascular resistance). It can also reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate.
Almonds, pecans, flaxseed, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts can also positively impact the health of your heart. Include a handful of these in your diet to see positive changes in your heart health.
You might think beets are a surprising choice, but studies reveal that they are full to the brim with nitric oxide that loosens up blood vessels that are tightened.
Actually, a small Australian study found that drinking about 2½ cups (500 grams) of beet juice can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure in under 6 hours.
Beet juice is one of the few sources of betalain, which is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Due to this further research is being conducted into beets and how it can be used in the treatment of arthritis and heart failure.
If you are planning to follow a healthy diet, make sure you add avocados to your dietary plans as well. A study issued in the American Heart Association’s journal revealed that interchanging foods with saturated fat with a single avocado per day can reduce blood pressure by up to 13.5 milligrams-per-deciliter.
The researchers believe avocados could be more than enough to keep people mildly suffering from blood pressure off meds. Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids. It can significantly reduce your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and total cholesterol, all the while keeping the “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels maintained.
7. Olive oil
Why olive oil you must wonder? Well, olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids that improve longevity, brain health, and heart health.
Olive oil can either be used for dressing vegetables, salads and for cooking rather things with high levels of saturated fats, like butter. The fatty acids in olive oil are known to significantly reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol.
Regardless of how Olive oil functions, it is high in caloric content. As long as it is used in moderation it can provide all the benefits and maintain a healthier heart.
When it comes to foods that are good for the heart, this list wouldn’t be complete Legume. Legumes include lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and beans. They’re good for the heart because legumes have a high content of soluble fibre which brings down the levels of triglyceride and cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Soluble fibre plays an important role in the body. It binds to the extra LDL cholesterol and flushes it out in the waste. Studies have revealed that eating about half a cup of legumes a day significantly reduces blood pressure. Legumes also have healthy proteins that work best for your digestive system.
Simply remember to rinse the salt before consuming any type of legume. Since salt is a contributory element in increasing blood pressure, ensure it is removed.
9. Low-fat dairy
It might seem odd to you that we have included dairy in this list heart-healthy foods, but studies reveal that yoghurt, milk, and cheese can help lower blood pressure.
Dairy products have the necessary minerals that help control blood pressure, i.e. potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Dairy items still contain high levels of fat and saturated fats, so it might be a good idea that you select low-fat products.
Consuming low-fat dairy in small proportions can help your heart condition. While higher amounts can increase your cholesterol. Keep this piece of information in mind when consuming dairy products.
It goes without saying, fruits are indeed healthy. They provide the nutrients your body requires, reduce inflammation, and help boost your immune system.
But here we will discuss a fruit that will help improve your cardiovascular health. Pomegranate contains phytochemicals that act as an antioxidant and protect the lining of your arteries.
A study issued in 2005 of the “National Academy of Sciences” discovered that pomegranate rich in antioxidants stimulated the production of nitric oxide in the body. This considerably helps regulate the blood flow and loosen up the tightened arteries.
All in all, a healthy diet is essential for a good heart. Your overall healthy heart plan should also include cardiovascular exercises, possibly attempts at weight loss, and stress reduction.
Also, schedule regular health check appointments with your GP. One of the most promising telehealth platforms benefits is that you can consult your GP without having to visit the healthcare facility. A healthy heart isn’t an achievement, it’s a lifestyle.
James Crook is a passionate blogger who loves to write on health and fitness related topics. Currently, he is a working as a blogger for a Physical Fitness Dr Wilson shoulder Surgeon. Follow @jamescrook911 for more updates.