It is critical to protect your heart health regardless of your age. As a result, you’ll be less likely to develop conditions like heart disease and stroke. However, you’ll feel more prepared to indulge in other healthy activities, such as exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.
One approach to start improving your health today is to eat wisely for your heart. Why is food so important?
We want to maintain our blood pressure, as well as keep our cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. Healthy eating will also assist you in maintaining a healthy weight, which can help you avoid a variety of health concerns.
Here’s the good news, by including a few foods in your diet, you can boost your heart health while also ensuring that you are getting adequate nutrition overall.
More good news: heart-healthy meals are also delicious and adaptable, allowing you to prepare them in a variety of ways for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without becoming bored. As a result, incorporating them into your diet and lifestyle is a win-win situation.
As an added bonus, a healthy heart also helps to prevent aging and can increase one’s lifespan, so you’ll reap both the short-term benefits of body fuel from these nutrient-dense foods as well as the long-term health benefits as you grow older.
Here are twelve heart-healthy foods to stock up on this week and have on hand as go-to mainstays in your cupboard and refrigerator.
1. Whole Grains
Diets that include whole grains on a regular basis may lower the risk of heart disease. We see this in well-researched diets like the DASH and Mediterranean eating patterns, and a new study found that substituting whole grains for refined grains lowers total and LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides. You also don’t need to avoid gluten unless you have Celiac disease.
In reality, research suggests that gluten has no link to the risk of heart disease, but eliminating gluten may increase the risk because it is linked to a lower diet of heart-healthy whole grains.
2. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries contain anti-inflammatory qualities and are high in polyphenol antioxidants. A 2019 study found that drinking tart cherry juice on a regular basis lowers blood cholesterol levels. If you don’t want to consume the juice, try frozen tart cherries in smoothies or dried tart cherries as a snack when paired with nuts.
Beets are high in dietary nitrate and contain a range of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which is good for your heart. In the body, dietary nitrates from beets are converted to nitric oxide, which aids in blood channel dilation. This relieves stress on the heart and may help to lower blood pressure.
While beet juice is a convenient way to obtain high nitrates, you may also prepare them yourself. Pre-cooked beets and a beet powder that gives the nitrate advantages you want when you’re in a hurry can also be found in the refrigerated department of the grocery store.
Pistachios include about 90 percent of the fats that are good for you, including mono and polyunsaturated fats, and each serving has 3 grams of fiber. Choose from variants such as Pistachios Chili Roasted and Pistachios Honey Roasted for an even more satiating snacking experience.
The potassium in potatoes is important for blood pressure control, and potatoes provide more potassium per serving than a banana (with creamer potatoes providing more potassium than a russet). When it comes to heart health, potassium intake is important for blood pressure control.
They also contain a significant amount of the antioxidant vitamin C. Cooking potatoes in the microwave is a game-changer if you think they take too long to prepare. Many manufacturers sell microwave-ready packages that cook in 5 minutes or less and include flavor.
These nutritional powerhouses are high in fiber and heart-healthy minerals such as folate, magnesium, and antioxidants, all of which can help to lower blood pressure levels. In addition, Fiber helps to maintain healthier blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and beans are fantastic in soups, salads and chili as well as dips and a variety of other dishes.
7. Fatty Fish
The majority of people do not take the two servings of fatty fish per week that are suggested to help minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke. Enjoy fatty fish such as salmon, herring, or sardines twice a week to get your omega-3 fix. Even tuna cooked in a can (as some brands do) has a little amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which is beneficial.
Consider thinking outside the box and experimenting with other types of fish. A whole grain cracker topped with avocado, sardines, and a squeeze of lemon is a mouthwatering combination. Don’t forget about the canned salmon, either! It is readily available at any time, is reasonably priced, and is really simple to include in salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and other cuisines.
Flaxseed is abundant in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals known as lignans, all of which may help lower blood cholesterol levels and lessen the risk of heart disease in people who consume it. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on yogurt or cottage cheese, or added to smoothies, muffins, pancakes, and waffles to add fiber and a little amount of protein.
Mono and polyunsaturated fats should be included whenever possible, according to the American Heart Association, which advocates avoiding saturated and trans fats altogether. Avocado is mostly monounsaturated in nature and can aid to maintain healthy cholesterol levels when consumed in substitute of high-fat foods that are heavy in saturated fat.
Soluble fiber, such as that contained in whole grain oats and oat bran, has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol. Three grams of soluble fiber per day, combined with a diet low in saturated fat, may help to minimize the risk of heart disease. One 12 cup serving of old fashioned oats includes 2 grams of soluble fiber, so enjoy a traditional bowl of oatmeal or toss some in your smoothie or overnight oats and top with nutritious toppings such as nuts, seeds, and berries to add an extra bit of fiber to your meal.
Walnuts are high in fiber as well as micronutrients such as magnesium, copper, and manganese. According to studies, including a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help prevent heart disease. Some tree nuts, notably walnuts, have a lot of evidence for preventing cardiovascular disease.
A 2009 research of 365 people found that adding walnuts to their diets resulted in lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels. Interestingly, frequent consumption of nuts such as walnuts has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease in several studies.
12. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can assist improve heart health. Interestingly, eating chocolate has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease in various studies.
In moderation (less than 6 servings per week), chocolate consumption may lower your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Keep in mind that while these studies suggest a link, they don’t always account for other factors that may be at play.
Furthermore, chocolate has a lot of sugar and calories, which negates a lot of its health benefits. To get the greatest heart-healthy advantages, choose high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa level of at least 70% and consume it in moderation.
The relationship between nutrition and heart disease is becoming stronger as new research emerges.
From blood pressure and inflammation to cholesterol levels and triglycerides, what you eat can affect practically every facet of heart health. As we discussed in this article, there are plenty of food sources that not only taste awesome but are excellent for your heart health too.
These heart-healthy foods can help maintain your heart in excellent shape and reduce your risk of heart disease if you eat them as part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.