Despite advances in modern medicine, 1 in 3 Americans is still affected by cardiovascular disease. Though the number of deaths linked to heart disease has decreased in recent years, it’s still the number-one killer of Americans. The good news is, studies show that up to 70% of heart disease cases are preventable with proper nutrition.
Diet and exercise are directly correlated to a healthy heart. You can work to help prevent heart attacks, strokes and heart disease with these heart-healthy superfoods that should take front and center in your weekly menu.
Salmon and other fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, shown to lower the risk of plaque build up in the arteries and decrease triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends consuming fatty fish at least twice a week. SlimGenics recommends wild rather than farm-raised salmon for better health benefits.
Results of a recent study shows women ages 25-42 who ate three servings of berries a week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared to those who ate less or none at all. The researchers attributed this finding to the flavonoids (antioxidants) found in berries, which may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Blueberries especially contain anthocyanics, which give the fruit its dark color and also ward off some diseases.
Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which can help protect against stroke and works to decrease cholesterol levels. Citrus also contains a plant chemical called hesperidin, which can improve blood flow to the heart.
Soy products are a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegetarian/ vegan, but they can also add protein to your diet without unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Soy may also reduce blood pressure in people who eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and can actually lower LDL or “bad cholesterol.”
Oatmeal is a top contender of superfoods. Oats can help to keep arteries clear and LDL levels down. The coarser (unrefined) varieties, such as steel cut or rolled oats, contain more nutrients and fiber than other alternatives.
Beans are a great source of soluble fiber, which can help to lower cholesteral and reduce triglyceride levels. Beans are also a versatile ingredient and can be added to most dishes farely easily and are very affordable. However, canned beans can be very high in sodium so if you go that route make sure you rinse them!
Tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid that may help lower bad cholesterol, keep bloodstream open and lower the risk of heart attack. Tomatoes are also low calorie, low in sugar and contain potassium!
Both olives (green and black) and olive oil are a wonderful source of “good fat.” Monounsaturated fats can help reduce both cholesterol and blood sugar levels and the antioxidants in olive oil can also help to reduce inflammation. But remember, moderation is key because good fat is still high in calories.
Channel your inner Popeye the Sailor Man and fill up on spinach as often as you can, as it is a true superfood. Spinach is packed with calcium, fiber, B vitamins, potassium and folate, which work together to defend your heart.
Good news for tea lovers! One of the best foods for your heart is actually a delicious drink. Green tea is packed with catechins and flavonols, which can improve cardiovascular health.
Don’t let processed foods and unhealthy choices put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Keep your heart healthy with these proven superfoods!