Heart disease accounts for nearly one-third of all deaths worldwide. Diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart disease. In fact, certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Here are 7 foods you should be eating to maximize your heart health.
- Oatmeal – Compared to refined grains, whole grain such as oatmeal, are higher in fiber, which may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. A review of 67 studies showed that diets high in soluble fiber, like the kind in steel-cut oats, decrease total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Salmon – Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your heart. Fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, improve arterial function and decrease blood pressure. Other omega-3 supplements like krill oil or algal oil are popular alternatives.
- Nuts – Choose walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts, which contain good-for-you mono- and polyunsaturated fats. According to one review, eating walnuts can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 16%, lower diastolic blood pressure by 2–3 mm Hg and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – A staple in the Mediterranean diet, the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil are well documented. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants, which can relieve inflammation and decrease the risk of chronic heart disease.
- Berries – Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries lower inflammation and have a host of other cardiovascular perks. One study found that eating blueberries daily improved the function of cells that line the blood vessels, which help control blood pressure and blood clotting.
- Beans – Multiple studies have also found that eating beans can reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. In one study, people who ate legumes such as beans and lentils, at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate them less than once a week.
- Broccoli – Broccoli and other green veggies like kale and spinach have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects. They’re also a great source of vitamin K, which helps protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting.