Top 8 "best of the best" Heart Healthy Foods
Heart diseases may be the leading killer of men and women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. In addition to doing exercises and running , being careful about what you eat—and what you don’t eat—can help you lower cholesterol, control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high cholesterol or blood pressure, a heart-smart diet can help you better manage these conditions,
lowering your risk for heart attack. With heart disease the number one killer of both men and women in this country, you would think a cure that could dramatically reduce these deaths would be big news. Not sure what to eat for a healthy heart? Protect yourself by adding these foods to your diet. Certain key foods can dramatically reduce your heart disease risk, Add these superfoods today for a healthier heart. There really is an abundance of fruits and vegetables in many colors, shapes, sizes that are good for your heart, "You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating these foods every day. Everyone's looking for that one magic food," - WebMD. "But heart-healthy is not only about oatmeal and omega-3 fats. You need to look for ways to get all the different nutrients. Plus, you'll stick to a heart-healthy lifestyle longer if you have variety." Given below is a list of top 8 heart-healthy foods. The foods listed here protects your heart and blood vessels and you can easily bring these heart-healthy foods into your daily meals.
[click here to open the above in full size] These
foods are loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your
cardiovascular system 1.
Strawberries â€“ Strawberries are not only a delicious fruit but also nutrient
rich. They have powerful disease-fighting antioxidants1 that may help reduce inflammation associated with hardening of the arteries. The new study found that those who eat strawberries experienced lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the blood vessels. Strawberries can be eaten when they are in season. They can be added into the breakfast cereals or dessert.
Blueberries – Phytonutrients in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically the
anthocyanins (it gives the fruit its blue hue) have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory 2
properties. Moreover, a handful of blueberries can meet the daily fibre requirement
and thus, keeps a check on cholesterol making your heart healthy.
Onions – A fat rich meal decreases blood fibrinolytic activity. Here, onions
whether raw or cooked, act as an anticoagulant 3and actually increases fibrinolytic activity (clot-dissolving system). Onions also raise HDL cholesterol (good fat). Quercetin, a flavonoid present in onions has been shown in studies to extend the action of Vitamin C and act as an antioxidant. It also maintains blood flow, reduces 1
"Antioxidants: MedlinePlus." 2002. 3 Aug. 2013 <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antioxidants.html> Dr. Omudhome Ogbru. "Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) drug class, medical ..." 2004. 3 Aug. 2013 <http://www.medicinenet.com/nonsteroidal_antiinflammatory_drugs/article.htm> 3 George Krucik. "Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Drugs | Definition and Patient Education." 2013. 3 Aug. 2013 <http://www.healthline.com/health/anticoagulantandantiplateletdrugs> 2
platelet clumping, protects LDL cholesterol from free radicals oxidation and reduces inflammation to the blood vessels. 4.
Spinach –The Vitamins A and C present in spinach prevent the oxidation of
cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease as oxidized cholesterol easily sticks to the walls of blood vessels causing blockage in arteries. Folate, a chemical present in spinach helps in converting Homocysteine (a chemical which may cause heart attacks or stroke) into harmless molecules, whereas magnesium present in spinach helps in lowering high blood pressure.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal contains soluble fibers – beta glucans, which has proven
effective in lowering blood cholesterol (LDL). Studies show that individuals with high cholesterol, more than 220 mg/dl if consumes one bowl of oatmeal (gives 3 gms of soluble oat) per day will lower the total cholesterol by 8-23% and hence decreases the risk of developing heart disease. Antioxidant compound –
avenanthramides4 present in oats helps to prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol. Oats are also a very good source of selenium, a necessary cofactor of the antioxidant – glutathione oxidize. Selenium along with Vitamin E also act as a 4
"Avenanthramides in oats AACC International." 2012. 3 Aug. 2013 <http://www.aaccnet.org/publications/plexus/cfwplexus/library/webcasts/Pages/WCollins.aspx>
powerful antioxidant and hence helpful in the prevention of heart disease.
Salmon – It is an oily fish rich in proteins, Omega – 3 fatty acid and Vitamin –
D. Omega – 3 fatty acids are associated with decreased risk of heart diseases. In many of the studies, a daily consumption of minimum 2 grams of Omega – 3 fatty acids (amount contained in approximately 4 ounces of cooked salmon) is required for measurable cardiovascular protection.
Edamame – Edamame beans are an immature ‘soyabean’ that can be eaten
fresh. Edamame are rich in carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, and micronutrients especially folates, manganese and Vitamin K. As rich in proteins, it is a perfect substitute for meat. It contains isoflavones5 that offers special benefits to the heart. Studies have that people who eat soy foods in place of meat have lower cholesterol levels. Eating an average of 1.5 ounces of soy a day reduces total cholesterol, dangerous LDL cholesterol and triglycerides without affecting protective HDL cholesterol.
Sacks, FM. "Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health Circulation." 2006. <http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/113/7/1034.full>
Walnuts – Walnuts differ from all other edible nuts because of high content of
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based Omega – 3 fatty acid, which may provide additional anti-atherogenic properties6 . Walnuts are also rich in amino acid (L-arginine) and Vitamin E (gamma –tocopherol), both of which are effective in preventing harmful vascular blockage. Walnuts also restores the elasticity of artery, allowing increased blood flow on demand. The walnut oil is particularly good at preserving the function of endothelial cells. Eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of low saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
A heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. By understanding which foods and methods of cooking are healthiest for your heart, you may be able to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure, and take greater control over the quality and length of your life and health.
About Author: Ms. Reema Bhatia enjoys a stellar academic background as well as
a fascinating career in diet & nutrition [Integrative Medical Specialist-Top 6
Rye, KA. "The metabolism and antiatherogenic properties of HDL." 2009. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674714/>
Consultant for Health, Nutritionist & Specialist dietician] A world-class professional author, she has published articles on Healthcare (heart healthy diets including weight loss diet plans and recipies) , Beauty care, Sports Fitness, Skin care & Baby care . Availaible for Expert consulation on DietKart.com.