Eating a heart healthy diet isn’t as hard as you might think. Start by filling your plate with tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Increase your fiber intake and eat fish a couple times a week. Limit saturated and trans fats as well as salt. But there are some surprising heroes when it comes to heart healthy foods. Start by adding these five to your diet and you just might lower your risk of heart disease.
- Raisins – The antioxidants in raisins fight the growth of a type of bacteria that can cause inflammation and gum disease. As many as half of American adults suffer from gum disease and they are twice as likely to suffer from heart problems.
- Nuts – Nuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Research suggests that people who eat nuts—walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who eat them less often.
- Yogurt – Research shows that the live cultures in some yogurt may protect against gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can increase your risk for heart disease.
- Beans – Incorporating beans into your diet on a regular basis is good for your heart. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that the soluble fiber in just half a cup of cooked pinto beans daily might lower cholesterol. Beans also contain a variety of heart-protective chemicals, including flavonoids, compounds also found in wine, berries and chocolate, that stops the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.
- Whole Grains – Eating whole grains can lead to a lower risk of heart disease because they are loaded with antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols that protect the heart. Whole grains are also high in fiber. Various studies, including one from Harvard, have linked a high-fiber diet with a lower risk of heart disease.