By Russell Hart
Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in the Unites States. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing almost 380,000 people annually.
In the United States, a heart attack occurs every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event. Heart disease kills 1 in 3 women, more than breast cancer and all forms of cancer combined.
71 million American adults, 33.5% of the population have high cholesterol; a major contributing risk factor for heart disease and only 1 out of every 3 adults have the condition under control.
The Role Of Diet In Heart Disease
Diet and exercise are the main ways to prevent heart disease, ensure long-term health, and prevent chronic disease. Heart healthy foods deliver power-packed phytonutrients that help to prevent and repair cellular damage and valuable macro and micronutrients to ensure optimal heart health.
Many foods also aid in preventing high cholesterol and clogging of heart arteries that can lead to the need for bypass surgery or premature death from heart attack.
Olive oil has been shown to reduce heart disease and is one of the main staples of the Mediterranean diet that a recent study showed to reduce heart disease by 30% in high-risk patients and by 9% in healthy individuals.
In addition, here are 25 more foods that are chock full of heart-healthy nutrients, which can aid in the protection of your cardiovascular system.
According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy fats that fall under the category of polyunsaturated fats. Regular intake of these healthy fats helps to lower the risk of heart arrhythmias that often result in sudden death, slow plaque buildup in the heart and lower triglyceride levels.
Flaxseed provides omega-3 fatty acids, along with fiber and phytoestrogens that help to lower bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol.
Ground flaxseed can be added to cereals, yogurt, homemade muffins, and to steamed vegetables for a nutty flavor.
Many studies have confirmed that soluble dietary fiber intake greatly reduces the risk for developing heart disease. A ¼-cup serving of steel cut oats provides 15% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance of fiber. Hot oatmeal and fresh berries is a treat for you and your heart.
Beans are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps control cholesterol, and they are a great source of lean protein as opposed to animal protein that is much higher in saturated fat that can clog heart arteries.
Beans also provide:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Blueberries are high in fiber and low in sugar and offer essential carotenoids, the flavonoid, anthocyanin, Ellagic acid, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Tofu is a great alternative to animal protein that is high in saturated fat and provides, Niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
7. Red Wine and Grapes
The catechin and resveratrol flavonoids in red wine are believed to reduce risk for heart disease. Red grapes are rich in flavonoids so there is no need to start drinking just for heart health. Raw fresh garlic and garlic supplements are also great sources of catechin.
Tuna is a fatty fish that is rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also provides folate and niacin.
Like almonds, walnuts offer essential nutrients for heart health, including heart-favorable mono and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, folate, fiber and vitamin E.
10. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a healthy whole grain that is much better for heart health than white processed rice. It gives you, B-complex vitamins, niacin, magnesium, and fiber.
11. Soy Milk
Soymilk is fortified with heart healthy nutrients, including: isoflavones, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium and phytoestrogen, potassium and B-complex vitamins
Almonds are nutrition powerhouses that provide heart friendly mono and polyunsaturated fats, and:
Choose raw nuts without added salty or sugary toppings. Cacao dusted almonds are a great option to get an added boost of antioxidants from the chocolate. Pure almond butter is a super food that provides healthy fats and makes a great snack as a dip for fruit to satisfy the sweet tooth or on whole grain toast for breakfast.
Carrots offer beta-carotene and fiber. They are also beneficial for vision health. They make a great sweet snack.
14. Spinach, Kale, And All Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are nature’s super foods and provide the best of what plant foods have to offer, including, lutein, B-complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium calcium, and fiber
Choose spinach instead of lettuce for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches.
Tomatoes are delicious and sweet, and while we often refer to them as vegetables, they are actually fruits.
For heart health, tomatoes offer lycopene, beta and alpha-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium.
Eat them in salads, as snacks, in smoothies, baked with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and in healthy sauces over whole grain pasta.
16. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a much better choice than white potatoes because they offer more nutrients, are lower on the Glycemic index, which makes them more effective for blood sugar control and offer these nutrients for heart health:
Vitamins A, C, and E
17. Whole Grain Cereals
Whole grain cereals, like whole wheat and oat bran help to lower cholesterol.
Broccoli, like all green vegetables is low in calories, nutrient rich and can be eaten in abundance. Broccoli gives you many nutrients for heart health, including beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, A, B-6 and fiber.
Eat it steamed as a side dish, or chop fresh broccoli into soup. It also makes a great snack when dipped into nutrient rich hummus.
Oranges are high in fiber and provide essential antioxidants to protect from free radicals. They also provide beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, flavonoids, and lots of vitamin C, folate, fiber, and potassium. Eat the whole fruit as juicing removes the pulp and eliminates the fiber.
Another awesome green vegetable that is low in calories and heart healthy offering essential nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lutein, B-complex vitamins, fiber and folate.
21. Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash is a vegetable rich in antioxidants, including, beta-carotene, lutein, B-complex and vitamin C. This tasty vegetable also provides folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
This juicy sweet fruit is good for heart health due it’s rich content of antioxidants, including, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. It is also a high fiber fruit that can help prevent high cholesterol.
Papaya is another sweet and delicious fruit that can help lower risks of heart disease by providing you with beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, vitamins E and C, lutein calcium, magnesium and potassium.
24. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate that is at least 60% cacao contains resveratrol and cocoa phenol flavonoids that are effective antioxidants in preventing heart disease.
25. Green Tea
Green tea has many health benefits, some of which are rooted in its content of catechin and flavanols that help to reduce heart disease risks. It also helps with weight loss, which naturally improves health and significantly lowers the risks for heart disease.
Incorporating these 25 heart-healthy foods into your everyday diet can help to reduce your risk of developing heart conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Russell (Rusty) Hart is the founder of the Health, Fitness & Sport Club, a website devoted to the promotion of health, fitness and wellness – http://www.healthfitnessandsport.com.