It’s clear that eating the right diet can make a huge difference when it comes to cardiovascular disease. The good news is a lot of research has been done on various foods that can lower your risk of both strokes and heart attacks.
Add these eight food items to your shopping cart and get started on your journey to a healthier heart by eating them on a regular basis.
This fatty fish is a top choice among hearty foods because it contains copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 as shown in studies reduces the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), atherosclerosis (plaque buildup), and decreases triglyceride in the blood which can lead to heart disease. Tuna, trout, or sardines are great alternatives.
The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish each week. One serving is 120g of fish. That’s a litter larger than a deck of cards.
Because they contain hearty monounsaturated fatty acids, a handful of nuts every day can cut your risk of heart disease in half. When you consume monounsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, in place of bad for you saturated fats such as that found in butter, you raise your good HDL cholesterol and reduce your bad LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Walnuts outshine the rest of the nuts because they’re also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Choose raw or roasted walnuts without the added salt.
The skin of these juicy fruits contain a plant compound called resveratrol which are thought to have antioxidant properties and help keep platelets in blood from sticking to each other and forming the clots that lead to heart attacks. This is partly why red wine in moderation may have some heart-healthy advantages over other types of alcohol. So go straight to source and eat grapes from the vines. You can also get your dose of resveratrol by eating berries or dark chocolate.
One serving is equivalent to 12 grapes.
Extra virgin olive oil
A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a good source of hearty monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. In a landmark study, people at risk for heart disease had a 30% reduction in risk after following a Mediterranean diet supplemented by at least four tablespoons of olive oil a day. Use olive oil in moderation, and choose extra virgin olive oil when available. For cooking, a great alternative is canola oil.
These tasty fruits get their creamy texture from good-for-you fat. Like olive oil, they contain heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that protect the heart. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect so you don’t get chronic inflammation that hardens artery walls. Make sure to keep your portions modest as avocados are high in calories.
Oats are high in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan that helps lower your bad LDL cholesterol. It acts as a sponge in the digestive tract and soaks up cholesterol, so that it gets eliminated from your body and not recycled. When choosing oats, avoid instant oatmeal that’s already flavored and most of the time contains a lot of sugar. Instead make your own oatmeal mix using old-fashion oats, dried fruits and nuts for some flavor.
A recent study found that women who consume high amounts of flavonoids found in grapefruit and oranges have a 19% reduced risk of ischemic stroke than those who do not get as much.
All citrus fruits, including oranges, contain vitamin C, which have been shown to reduce heart disease risk. It’s always a better option to eat your fruits whole. When we juice our fruit, we reduce the amount of Vitamin C content. If you choose grapefruit as your source of vitamin C, make sure it doesn’t interfere with the action of cholesterol-lowering medication.
Although shunned by many, tomatoes are actually a great choice for people at risk of heart disease. They’re high in potassium which is important in controlling blood pressure by lessening the effects of sodium. They’re also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene that keeps blood vessels healthy and protects them from damage.