Heart health is of primary importance in the health sector. The smooth functioning of the heart is vital for survival.
Sadly, one-third of the world’s population is suffering from one or the other heart ailments.
Stroke is among the leading causes of death. Taking care of the heart becomes crucial in such a situation.
Changing lifestyles have increased the load on the heart. Oily unhealthy food, stress, and obesity increase the risk of heart problems.
Diet is one way to prevent or improve heart health. Certain foods like dark leafy vegetables and whole grains contain heart-healthy compounds.
This article will discuss some foods you should include in your diet to improve your heart health.
Foods For Heart
What you eat may pose a huge impact on your overall health and if that is not optimum, cardiovascular health issues could develop with age.
Thus, the following foods could be included in your daily life for better heart health-
Tofu is an excellent soya-based source of nutrition. It is not just a protein source but a vegan boon for heart health.
Isoflavones present in tofu are an anti-inflammatory agent. It is also an antioxidant that aids in preventing free radical damage.
Tofu consumption is linked with reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Isoflavones also boost the growth of anti-inflammatory microbes in the gut.
Tofu contains fewer calories in comparison to other protein sources. Tofu is rich in zinc, magnesium, fiber, calcium, and folate.
Furthermore, it has monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are heart friendly.
Almonds are high-fat nuts but still heart-healthy as they contain unsaturated fats which are good for cardiovascular health.
These fats reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), also called bad cholesterol.
Not just this, unsaturated fats also increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, better known as good cholesterol.
Almonds contain a good amount of vitamin D which could improve bone strength. Almonds also have Vitamin E which could help in improving immunity.
The antioxidant property of almonds reduces the risk of inflammation.
One of the best options available in leafy greens is spinach. It is rich in potassium, associated with better heart health.
Additionally, it benefits cardiac health by reducing the secretion of inflammatory cytokines.
Spinach also reduces bad cholesterol levels as it is fiber rich. It also contains nitrates, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
Walnuts are an ideal nut to consider for a healthy heart. They are rich in fiber, magnesium, manganese, and many more macronutrients.
It is also enriched with hearty healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
It is said that eating walnuts reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems. It lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol( LDL-C).
You should limit walnuts to a serving of one ounce per day as they have a high-fat content.
Unlike other unhealthy sugar candies, dark chocolate contains health benefits besides taste.
It contains antioxidants called flavonoids which promote better heart function. It might help keep stroke, cardiovascular disease, and associated risk of diabetes at bay.
To choose the best chocolate for this purpose, check for cocoa content on the label. Only opt for chocolate with 70% or above cocoa content.
This step ensures you are not eating just sugar and calories. You can go up to a maximum of 5 servings a week.
Beans are highly nutritious legumes that contribute a large share to a balanced diet. Pinto beans are a prime example of heart-healthy beans.
They prevent inflammation, control LDL and reduce triglyceride levels.
They also include resistant starch which slows down digestion. Moreover, their consumption is linked with reduced blood pressure.
Fats are advertised as unhealthy and hazardous for the heart. But in reality, unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for a sound cardiovascular system.
Salmon is an oily fish that is a leading source of omega-3s. These fats act as a protective barrier and may eliminate the risk of heart problems.
Fatty fish like salmon, when consumed, are also linked with a significant drop in triglyceride levels, bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and may also reduce blood pressure.
Chickpeas contain a soluble fiber called raffinose which helps lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Moreover, other nutrients like vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, and iron work together to benefit the heart.
Also, chickpeas contain fewer sodium levels. It is a bonus for the heart as high sodium is a threat to cardiovascular health.
You can also keep your weight controlled by consuming chickpeas. Thus, eliminating the chances of obesity, which can otherwise be a huge problem.
Berries are a colorful feast of nutrition. Several berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are associated with heart benefits.
Almost all varieties are rich in antioxidants. These anthocyanins protect against inflammation and reduce oxidative stress.
Moreover, berries reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure. A study suggests that blueberries effectively reduce blood clotting.
Another study documented that strawberries improve insulin resistance. Berries may also help control body weight eliminating the risk of obesity.
Avocados are slightly high in fat but these fats are healthy. Moreover, as they are low in carbohydrate content, adding them to the daily diet plan could be easier.
One avocado per day is enough to counter LDL cholesterol and inflammation.
They also contain potassium which plays a crucial role in heart health and potassium also helps in maintaining fluid levels in our cells.
One avocado serving provided 28% percent of the daily required potassium value.
The monounsaturated fats in the fruit help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Recently, seeds have gained a reputable spot in nutrition. Chia seeds are one such variety with ample dietary fiber present in them.
Fiber slows down digestion and also keeps you full. Alongside this, they keep blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and calorie count in control.
A study conducted on rats fed with chia seeds concluded that the seeds reduce triglyceride levels and boost good cholesterol.
Just like chia seeds, flax seeds are also a good source of fiber. Moreover, they are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
It also contains alpha-linolenic acid(ALA) which may improve heart health. You can also opt for flaxseed oil for the same.
Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene which is the main reason for its appealing bright red appearance.
However, lycopene is not just a color pigment but a healthy compound. It is associated with reduced oxidative stress and blood pressure.
They are also rich in beta carotene and flavonoids. Therefore, eating tomatoes may help bring down inflammation and bad cholesterol.
Quinoa is a widely used whole grain and it may help assist in enhancing cardiac health.
Quinoa is antioxidant-rich and incorporates a good amount of fiber. Thus, you might expect results like improved blood flow, reduced blood pressure, and inflammation.
Also, it is jam-packed with nutrients, providing enough nutrition in limited amounts.
Oats are on top of the charts as a quick and healthy breakfast. These fiber-rich grains have antioxidants.
According to a study, obese individuals are prone to heart problems. Keeping your body weight in control sustains the cardiovascular system.
Eating oats might be a great way to do so. Topping it with nuts like walnuts and almonds adds up to the benefits.
Potatoes have the magical ability to blend in with almost every dish. But the starchy white potatoes have too many carbs.
Luckily, you do not have to give up completely on potatoes, just replace the white regular potatoes with sweet ones.
Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index. So, they won’t shoot up your blood glucose levels. Therefore, they are safer for your heart.
Edamame is a variety of beans low in calories and gluten-free. They may also improve blood lipid profile.
These beans are full of antioxidants and fiber. It may also control triglyceride levels and bad cholesterol.
Diet plays a vital role in determining your health. Along with exercises and medication, monitoring your food habits help improve the status of your heart health.
Vegetables with low glycemic index and full of fiber help relieve pressure on your heart. Some veggies to consider are spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Similarly, other fiber-rich grains and legumes like quinoa, oats, and beans help in improving nutrition profiles.
To enhance the chances of a heart-healthy balanced diet, oils and nuts are also efficient.
Replacing processed foods and saturated fats with healthier alternatives may keep your health in the long run.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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- About the Author
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.