According to the CDC, roughly 610,000 people in the U.S. die from heart disease each year which accounts for a quarter of all deaths in the U.S. each year. It’s scary to think about, but the good news is that there are a number of things that you can do to help lower your risks. Today we’ll be discussing the heart-healthy superfoods you need to include in your diet.
Oatmeal, or most whole grains for that matter, are great for reducing your cholesterol intake. Because oats are high in soluble fiber, they work like a sponge, soaking up cholesterol in your digestive tract and it is eliminated from your body before it has a chance to be absorbed into the bloodstream. As mentioned, any other whole grains will work in the same fashion so that means you can eat bread, pasta, or grits and reduce your cholesterol, just be sure to check the ingredients list to be sure they are whole grain.
Oily fish such as salmon and tuna contain essential omega-3 fats which lower blood-clotting triglycerides in the blood. Studies have found that eating two or more servings of fish each week can potentially lower your chances of developing coronary heart disease by 30%. Omega-3 acids also work to reduce your blood pressure slightly and help keep your heart beating in the correct rhythm.
Almonds, walnuts, and peanuts all contain fiber, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential in keeping your heart healthy. Fiber will absorb cholesterol and prevent it from settling in your bloodstream; the omega-3 fatty acids will help keep your blood flowing smoothly and your heart healthy, and vitamin E works to lower bad cholesterol. Overall, nuts are an essential ingredient that should be a part of your diet, but be sure you are eating only those without added salt.
Green vegetables are full of many essential vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to nearly every part of your body. Greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli provide an extra boost for your heart as well. Greens are high in fiber, crucial vitamins and minerals, and some greens like kale are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Every day you need to make sure that you’re getting a serving of vegetables and we recommend pairing them with other heart-healthy foods like salmon and whole-grain pasta.
Love chocolate? Well, you’re in luck. Dark chocolate has been found to have positive impacts on blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation. This is because dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are flavonoids which studies have shown could reduce the risk of nonfatal heart attacks and strokes. With benefits like that, it’s time to feed your sweet tooth! However, make sure you are only eating chocolate with a 60-70% cocoa content meaning most of the candy bars you find in stores will not have positive effects.
Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and other berries contain antioxidants that may help dilate blood vessels and decrease blood pressure. Studies have shown that women aged 25-40 that ate four or more servings of berries a week had a 32% lower heart attack risk. Berries are tasty and are great for your heart as well! Mix them with some almonds in a bowl of oatmeal, and you have real breakfast of champions.
Tofu isn’t just for vegetarians anymore! Tofu and other soy-based proteins are great alternatives that provide added benefits for your overall hearth health not found in milk and red meat. Tofu and soy milk are packed with protein, and high levels of polyunsaturated fats (aka good fats). Also, they also contain valuable fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Studies have shown soy products to potentially reduce blood pressure in those with a diet high in refined carbs. So consider switching over to soy products a few times a week to improve your heart’s health greatly. There are hundreds of other foods that can help keep your heart healthy, but these are the big ones. For the most significant impact on your health, mix these ingredients to create cholesterol-blasting, heart-healthy meals.