We all know we should take better care of our hearts – we should eat better and exercise more. After all, heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the US.
However, this is much easier said than done. With so much conflicting information available, it’s difficult to know which foods and exercises are best.
However, there are certain foods that consistently top the list of heart friendly produce. We should aim to eat more of these, and cut down on food that is bad for our heart. We should eat less meat, processed food, and refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta if we want to reduce our chances of having a heart attack.
Below are some of the foods that are best for heart health, and can reduce or even prevent a heart attack from occurring. Generally, they do this by either lowering our blood pressure, and/or reducing our cholesterol levels. Either way, these foods should always be on everyone’s supermarket shopping lists.
Salmon, tuna, sardines and other oily fish
Salmon and other fish such as sardines and tuna are full of omega-3, which has been scientifically proven to help blood flow more efficiently around the body. Without this, your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood and this increases your chances of having a heart attack.
Specifically almonds and walnuts, nuts have a huge impact on our cholesterol levels. Nuts such as these contain high levels of the ‘good cholesterol’ so when we eat these in place of other foods such as butter, we replace ‘bad cholesterol’.
This reduces the amount arteries are clogged up and therefore keeps your heart healthy. Nuts are also quality fat sources for heart health. Nuts make great snacks, additions to salads and berries with nut butter are a power breakfast.
Berries such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are good for us in many ways; we all know we should probably eat more fruit and vegetables because they are healthy.
However, berries are specifically good at improving heart health. Berries contain antioxidants, which help to clear your body of toxins that can build up. A recent study has found people who eat berries on a regular basis have 32% less chance of having a heart attack.
Oats make excellent breakfast and snack options so can be enjoyed relatively easily throughout the day. Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that promotes the good cholesterol in your heart.
If eaten daily, oats can reduce your cholesterol level. High cholesterol levels are one of the main causes of heart attacks. Choose steel cut oats (whole grain) for the best results and not the instant oatmeal products, which are processed and have added sugar and other unwanted ingredients.
Good quality dark chocolate is perhaps surprisingly healthy. This type of chocolate contains flavanols, which have been proven to lower blood pressure. The lower your blood pressure, the less strain placed on your heart.
Opt for dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa otherwise, you will not get the full benefit. If you are at a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke, a small amount of dark chocolate can make a huge difference and actually lower your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Research has found citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits can be particularly beneficial to women. The flavonoids found in these fruits have been proven to lower the risk of a stroke by as much as 19%. Strokes are caused by blood clots so by including these fruits in your diet you are keeping your heart health and reducing your risk of having a stroke.
However, many fruit juices contain added sugar so this must be kept in mind when choosing between juice and eating the natural fruits.
There are many products available that originate from the soya bean, including soya milk and tofu. Soy products are an excellent way to consume the necessary amounts of protein without including meat in your diet.
Soya beans contain many beneficial properties, such as high fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyunsaturated fats. As well as benefiting other parts of the body, they can lower blood pressure, which helps to keep the heart healthy.