Aside from not smoking and exercise, diet plays a significant role in overall cardiovascular health. Certainly, there are foods that are better than others both for the heart and overall wellness. Those foods which raise blood pressure or cholesterol, two important risk factors, can often facilitate heart disease.
If you’re looking to improve your diet or simply ensure that what you eat is good for your cardio health, here are a few items to consider:
1. Fatty Fish
Yes, the last thing people think they need to improve their heart health are more fatty foods, but certain fish such as salmon and tuna are filled with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are known for their heart health benefits, so much so that even moderate consumption of these fish have shown to lower blood pressure for overweight and obese adults.
If you have an aversion to seafood or can’t eat these fatty fish as often as you would like, there are also fish oil supplements. This helps promote overall artery health and can lower triglycerides.
2. Olive Oil
Again, don’t let the “oil” name or the fat content fool you, olive oil’s monounsaturated fats are healthy for the heart and can assist in lowering overall blood pressure. Olive oil has shown benefits for patients with high risk for cardiovascular disease, lowering deaths from cardiovascular deaths by 48 percent (for more than 7000 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80).
3. Green Tea
One of the best beverages for the heart and the body generally, its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and assist in burning fats makes it a potent combatant against cardiovascular diseases.
Green tea’s ability to boost metabolism and improve the workings of endothelial cells in blood vessels makes it a welcome guest in any diet plan. Adding sugar reduces the benefits and is not recommended for improving heart health.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, the consumption of which has shown to be beneficial for those with risk of cardiovascular disease. Those with low lycopene content in the blood have been shown to have a higher risk of heart disease.
While berries contain a high amount of natural sugar content, they also contain phytonutrients that contribute to heart health. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, though the amount of antioxidants and the types of nutrients you receive will vary depending on the type of berry you eat. Buying and eating an assortment of different berries can help provide more variety in nutrients and flavor, though you can’t go wrong with blueberries and blackberries especially.
Soy, like fish, is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly good for the heart. Increased intake of soy can help lower blood pressure and reduce overall risk of heart diseases. Whether through edamame, tofu, or other means, there are plenty of unique ways to add more soy to your diet.
Heart-conscious eaters should advocate for more avocado in their diets. Like olive oil, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and, like berries, are filled with phytochemicals that can help protect your heart. Avocado oil is also a good choice for cooking as its fats don’t convert to bad fats as easily at high temperatures. In other words, avocados are an ultimate heart superfood.
8. Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
While chocolate of 70% or higher might be too bitter for some, lower percentages will contain unhealthy amounts of sugars.
9. Leafy Greens
Consumption of leafy greens, such as broccoli or spinach, offer high fiber content and can help lower cholesterol. When mixed with some of the other members of this list, such as olive oil and avocados, you can eat a fiber-rich, nutrient-dense meal that your heart will be thankful for having.
10. Whole Grains
Oats, another fiber-rich food, is one of the best foods for lowering cholesterol. Oats contain beta glucan specifically, a soluble fiber that helps combat bad cholesterol. Mix with berries in the morning for a heart-healthy power start.
Schedule a Scan
Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa offers a variety of scans for the heart, lungs, and colon, among others. All scans are minimally invasive and take only a few minutes to complete, but can be crucial to detecting early signs of disease and working towards healthy outcomes. To schedule or ask about a scan, visit our website or call us at 918.879.6161.