Heart disease is still the number one killer in American. It has been proven time and again that making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of heart disease dramatically. Eating a healthy diet is a good place to start. Still, some foods are better than others. Try these five super foods for your heart.
- Salmon – Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel are the superstars of heart-healthy foods. They contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, shown in studies to lower the risk of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), and the build-up of plaque in the arteries (arteriosclerosis) and decrease triglycerides. The American Heart Associationrecommends eating this type of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids are also available as dietary supplements.
- Oatmeal - Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. It’s sort of like a sponge for your body, soaking up the cholesterol so it’s eliminated and not absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s important to note that not just any oatmeal will do. The “instant” packs in the box are usually full of sugar. Look for the old-fashioned variety or better still, steel cut oats.
- Blueberries – Really, berries of any variety will do! A recent study found that women ages 25-42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. The authors of the study attributed the results to the powerful antioxidants (anthocyanis) contained within the berries. These specific antioxidants have been shown to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. They give berries their red and blue colors.
- Dark Chocolate – chocolate lovers rejoice! It can actually be good for you. Several studies have now shown that dark chocolate may benefit your heart, including one in 2012 that found that daily chocolate consumption could reduce nonfatal heart attacks and stroke in people at high risk for these occurrences. Beware, the findings were only applicable to dark chocolate, meaning chocolate made up of at least 60-70% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation. Unfortunately, milk chocolate and most candy bars don’t cut it when it comes to protecting your heart.
- Avocados - These soft, tasty fruits have a well-established reputation for providing the body and heart with healthy fats. Like olive oil, they’re rich in the monounsaturated fats that may lower heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol. They’re also high in antioxidants and in potassium. They can be eaten on their own, added to a sandwich or even pureed into guacamole.