Most of the natural heart-healthy foods we see today are often neglected because of the rising increase in already processed foods or canned foods. The heart which is an essential organ in your body requires healthy foods to enable it to pump blood through your veins and arteries effectively. Consumption of most processed foods leads to an increased risk of contracting heart diseases and cancer, so it is advisable to do away with processed foods.
29 Heart-Healthy Foods
Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries all contain nutrients essential for your heart health. Also, berries are known to contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant which guides against the inflammation and oxidative stress that may cause heart disease. Most dark berries contain antioxidants such as resveratrol and flavonoids which help protect you from contracting heart diseases. You can spice berries up by introducing them into your yogurt and oatmeal for a balanced heart diet.
A study shows that consuming blueberries every day tends to increase the functioning of the cells that line the blood vessels, which aid in regulating the pressure of the blood and blood clotting.
Also, an analysis of 22 kinds of research showed that consuming berries lead to a reduction in bad LDL cholesterol, body mass index, systolic blood pressure and certain makers of inflammation.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables like kale, mustard green, spinach, and salad green are rich in vitamin A, C, E and k, minerals, and has antioxidants which are essential heart-healthy foods. These heart-healthy foods are rich in dietary nitrates known to lower blood pressure, reduce the stiffness of arteries and improve cells functioning lining the blood vessels.
Also, an analysis of one out of eight studies deduced that increasing the intake of leafy green vegetable tend to reduce the occurrence of heart disease by 16 percent.
Another study shows that a high intake of leafy green vegetable results to a significantly reduced chance of contracting coronary heart disease in 29,689 women.
Green vegetables are also rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium which play a major role in your heart health. Potassium helps in reducing the effects of sodium on blood pressure while calcium and magnesium help relax the walls of the blood vessels thereby increasing the flow of blood and lowering blood pressure. Why not increase the consumption of these heart-healthy foods to reduce your risk of having heart diseases.
Fatty fish and fish oil
Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel are known to contain omega-3-fatty acids which are suitable heart-healthy foods you must consume. When you consume fish for a long time, it helps reduce the level s of fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and blood triglycerides effectively.
A study shows that eating salmon thrice a week consecutively for eight weeks leads to a reduction of diastolic blood pressure in 324 people.
If you can’t consume fatty fish you can substitute it for fish oils that contain omega-3-fatty acids which are also some essential heart-healthy foods. Most of these fatty fishes have oil like sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring. They have long-chain omega-3 supplements which contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Other alternatives for omega-3 supplements include krill oil and algal oil.
Also, it is known that long-chain omega-3s inclusion in human clinical trials have prevented heart attacks by making the heart maintain its rhythm. A Mediterranean diet has been associated with lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke.
These heart-healthy foods are loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids which improves your heart health. Try consuming dark chocolate that has at least 70 percent of cocoa in it and avoids taking it in excess to maintain your heart health.
Chocolate also have high level of calories and sugar which can affect your heart health, so make your choice carefully.
A study shows that consumption of chocolate at least twice a week leads to a 32 percent lowered risk of contracting calcified plaque in the arteries. Note that this study does not put other factors into consideration and it’s just an association.
Walnuts contain omega-3-fatty acids, folate, fiber, and vitamin E which are essential nutrients for your heart health. They are rich in polyunsaturated fats and should be eaten without adding salt which makes your memory sharp. These heart-healthy foods provide your body with fiber and micronutrients like copper, manganese, and magnesium.
A study shows that diets supplemented with walnuts resulted in an important reduction in total cholesterol and LDL in 365 participants.
According to research, consuming walnuts can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 16 percent, reduce diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mmHg, and decrease inflammation and oxidative stress.
Almonds just like walnuts are also rich in omega-3-fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins which are essential heart-healthy foods. They also contain monounsaturated fats and fiber which are the two essential nutrients that help protect your body against heart disease.
Research shows that eating almonds can have a great impact on your cholesterol level.
Another research deduced that consuming almonds for a month resulted in a significant reduction in both total cholesterol and LDL.
Never forget that almonds have high calories and eat them in a moderate amount to help you lose weight.
Cloves of Garlic are heart-healthy foods and its constituents are useful in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol level. Notwithstanding, recent researches have affirmed garlic to have great medicinal value and are very important for heart health. The presence of allicin in garlic shows it has great therapeutic effects.
You can consume garlic in a raw form or mash it and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking it. These allow allicin to be formed which is very important to your heart health.
Also, one research compiled the results of 39 studies and discovered that garlic can lower total cholesterol level by an average of 17 mg/dL and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 9 mg/dL in those with increased cholesterol.
A study deduced that taking an extract of garlic in doses of 600mg-1,500mg daily for 6 months was effective as a common drug prescribed for lowering blood pressure. An extract of garlic can be used to inhibit the buildup of platelet thereby reducing the risk of stroke and blood clotting.
Green tea is not just useful in making one burn fat or improve insulin sensitivity; it is also one of the heart-healthy foods we need to consume. It has catechins and polyphenols which can act as antioxidants to avert cell damage, lower inflammation and protect heart health immensely.
Consuming green tea supplement or taking of matcha which is a beverage that is similar to green tea but prepared with the whole tea leaf has a health benefit to your heart.
Higher consumption of green tea catechins was associated with a reduced level of LDL and total cholesterol in a review of 20 studies.
Another study which analysis 1,367 people discovered that green tea reduces both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Consequently, a small study deduced that drinking extract of green tea for 3 months lowers total cholesterol and LDL, blood pressure, triglycerides, compared to a placebo.
Beets and its juice tend to provide betalain, a strong antioxidant with high anti-inflammatory properties which makes researchers look into how beets could be used in treating diseases caused by chronic inflammation like cancer, arthritis, and heart failure.
Coffee has been shown to contain antioxidants which are very useful in reducing the risk of one having type 2 Diabetes; according to Dr. Agatston. They are important heart-healthy foods you can’t let go from your diet. Dr. Agatston also says consuming at least three (3) cups daily makes your cognition level increased and reduces the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease.
They are delicious and important heart-healthy foods that are needed by all irrespective of your neither age nor gender. Soy milk tends to lower cholesterol level because of the presence of the organic compound known as isoflavones. It also contains niacin which aids the circulation of blood around the body effectively. Why not consume blueberry-banana soy milk smoothie for optimal food for heart health.
This green vegetable is high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and contains a lot of antioxidants suitable for your heart health. Broccoli is also important for joints protection. Try eating these heart-healthy foods daily to reduce the chance of you contracting any heart diseases.
Cauliflower is not green, but is high in fiber, rich with antioxidants, and contains allicin which is also noticeable in garlic found to help reduce the chance of having heart attacks and lower cholesterol level. Inculcate cauliflower into your diet if you really want to boost your heart health.
Apples are heart-healthy foods that we tend to consume every day without knowing it’s an effective fruit to make your heart stay healthy. They contain antioxidants known as polyphenols that protects cholesterol from being damaged by the free-radicals. A recent study shows that eating an apple daily makes your LDL cholesterol to be reduced by 40 percent. Apples contain pectin which helps shield the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
They contain enough vitamin C which helps protect your body against stroke and also lower cholesterol. Never consume grapefruit with any heart medications like viagara or a statin like Lipitor because they contain a compound which can be very harmful when taken with grapefruit.
Red, orange, and yellow vegetables
They include red peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes which contain fiber, carotenoids, and vitamins essential for your heart health. You can also consume the red peppers in a moderate amount so as not to cause harm to your heart and reduce the risk of stomach ulcer.
They are suitable heart-healthy foods when free of glutens, involving rice and oat bran helps regulate cholesterol. Do away with processed refined grains because they are high in glutens which bring about heart diseases including clogged arteries.
Consuming three more servings of whole grains every day resulted in 22 percent lower risk of heart disease in an analysis of 45 studies.
They are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can lower both your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and your total cholesterol while stabilizing your “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels. Avocados are important in insulin control, which helps people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
They are known to contain potassium which is an important nutrient for heart health. Consuming an avocado gives 975 milligrams of potassium or about 28 percent of the amount which your body requires for a day.
Avocados oil is very good for heart health because it can transform fatty acids in tissues around the heart. A study by the National Institute of Cardiology in 2005; shows that avocados oil could reduce hardening of the arteries, which often results in heart disease.
Legumes are important heart-healthy foods we can never do without in our diets. They include different kinds of beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, and chickpeas. They are also rich in protein which you can’t afford to lose by involving it in your diets.
Legumes also help the heart since they are rich in soluble fiber, which is found to lower both triglyceride levels in the bloodstream and cholesterol level.
Furthermore, legumes are rich in copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins and are also low in glycemic index, making them have little effect on your blood sugar. If you are to eat canned beans or other legumes make sure you rinse them very well in clean water to remove the salt being used as a preservative so as not to increase your blood pressure level.
Tomatoes are known to contain lycopene which helps lower the risk of having stroke and heart diseases, as well as raise “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
A high intake of foods rich in lycopene was found to reduce the risk of having stroke and heart disease in one review of 25 studies.
These heart-health foods include flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds which are all rich in omega-3-fatty acids and fiber; that are essential nutrients for your heart health.
A study shows that adding these types of seeds to your diet helps improve many heart disease risk factors, like blood pressure, triglycerides, inflammation, and cholesterol.
Also, flaxseed can help regulate your cholesterol and blood pressure level effectively.
Consumption of bread made with flaxseed was found to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol by 9 percent and total cholesterol by 7 percent in a study involving 17 people.
They are known to contain monounsaturated fatty acids which help lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Olive oil is used in Mediterranean diet for cooking and dressing both vegetables and salads in place of butter or other more saturated fats.
Also, a study involving 7,216 adults with a higher risk of heart disease deduced that those who consumed enough olive oil had a 35 percent lower chance of developing heart disease.
Consequently, higher consumption of olive oil was found to have a 48 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease.
Another study shows that a higher intake of olive oil helps lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Why not cultivate the habit of eating these heart-healthy foods to avert having any heart disease.
Most dairy products are rich in saturated fat, so it’s advisable to consume those with a low-fat product. Yogurt and milk cheese can help lower your blood pressure very well.
A study conducted by the Boston University followed the eating habits of 75,000 people for up to 30 years and discovered that women who drank yogurt for at least five (5) times a week had a 20 percent decrease in their risk of developing high blood pressure. The effect of blood pressure of men in the study was weaker because they consume much less yogurt than the women.
Also, I will recommend following DASH eating plan which says you should consume more vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and fruits while refraining from any food high in saturated fat, and limit the rate of salt intake.
A study by the University of Leicester shows that red wine contains resveratrol that has antioxidant properties which can also help prevent the chance of having cancer. Dark-skinned grapes and berries have resveratrol. Also, a large amount of antioxidant known as procyanidins found in Cabernets and Madirans can help lower cholesterol and improves arterial health.
A study presented to the American College of Cardiology in 2012 deduced that eating a handful of raisins can help lower high blood pressure. This is possible because raisins are rich in potassium that can help lower hypertension thereby increasing immune-boosting antioxidants. Rasins are heart-healthy foods we must consume daily to boost our heart health effectively.
This vegetable is rich in vitamins and it looks like mini cabbage heads. Brussels sprouts are one of the heart-healthy foods your heart needs to function effectively. They also help reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system and improve your blood vessel health.
Yams are heart-healthy foods that contain calcium, iron, and vitamin C, which help lower high blood pressure. Its heart health benefits are present in the skin.
Orange fruit has enough vitamin C, which prevents stroke and hesperidin, a plant chemical that increases the flow of blood to the heart. It is also useful in reducing the inflammation of the artery and lowering of blood pressure since it contains flavanoid.
Heart-Healthy Foods to Avoid
- Consumption of deep-fried foods should be avoided
- Avoid taking sugary drinks
- Avoid consumption of margarine, it is better to use olive oil
- Cut down your level of candy consumption
- Never eat any cured and processed meats especially sausage and bacon which are known to be high in saturated fat
- Avoid consumption of pizza and opt for vegetables instead
- Pastries and cookies should be avoided
- Never consume fast-food burgers in a roadside restaurant.
Recommended Exercise for People with Heart Disease
- Before indulging in any exercise, inquire from your doctor which exercise is best for you. You may need to avoid sit-ups and pushups because they can strain your muscles against other muscles.
- Involve yourself in aerobic exercise like biking, swimming, light jogging and walking at least three (3) times a week. This aerobic exercise enables your heart to pump more blood and circulate it around the whole body.
- Limit the rate of pushing and lifting heavy objects, and house chores so as not to get tired quickly.
- Indulge in resistance weight training to improve your strength and makes your muscles work together effectively.
- Mall walking is also very good for your ailing heart.
- Work out tips for people with heart disease.
- Never exercise outdoors when it’s too hot or cold.
- Drink enough water especially on hot days.
- Avoid extremely cold and hot showers after you are done exercising.
- Don’t exercise immediately after a little sickness, harsh weather or you went on vacation that interrupted your daily exercise. Resume slowly until you are back on your feet strong.
- If you feel dizzy or weak, pains in your chest, arm, neck or jaw while exercising, immediately visit your doctor for optimal treatment.
Lifestyles That Can Affect Your Heart Health
Several lifestyles can impede the proper functioning of your heart paving a way to increase heart attack and heart diseases. Here are the various lifestyles that can mar your heart-health:
- Being obese can cause diabetes and increase your blood pressure.
- Eating diets that are high in trans fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol can cause heart disease and conditions like atherosclerosis.
- Excessive intake of alcohol can increase your blood pressure level and increase your risk of having heart disease.
- Irregular exercising of your body can cause heart disease and worsen obese and diabetic conditions.
- Excessive smoking increases your chance of having heart attack and heart disease. Also, being exposed to the smoke from a chronic smoker may mar your heart-health.
How to Help People with Heart Disease Eat Right
People with heart disease should eat a variety of foods rich in protein.
They should consume more vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.
Limit their intake of cholesterol found in red meat and high-fat dairy products, which could increase blood cholesterol level predominantly in high-risk patients.
You should eat regularly to help regulate your blood sugar level, cholesterol levels, and burn more fat efficiently.
Cultivate the habit of drinking at least one (1) liters of water every day to stay hydrated except otherwise asked by your doctor to limit fluids.
Limit your consumption of saturated foods found in animal products and stays away from artificial Trans fats.
Try limiting your salt intake so as not to cause a rise in your blood pressure.
We have looked at the various heart-healthy foods that you must eat to improve your heart health and if you are allergic to any of the foods consult your allergist or doctor for advice. Also, refraining from heart-healthy foods that might mar your heart-health and bad lifestyles should be of paramount importance.
Never neglect people with heart disease conditions and be ever ready to be of assistance to them or assist them to meet a medical doctor. You can share these great proven heart-healthy foods tips to your loved ones and save them from contracting heart diseases.