Eating healthy can be good for your heart and your waistline too.
“You can definitely lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day,” says Julia Zumpano, nutritionist for preventive cardiology, RD, LD. “There is a wide variety of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables.”
“Try to eat foods that are in their natural form because they come from the soil,” says Zumpano, recommending what she calls a “complete diet”.
This diet naturally includes heart-healthy foods like nuts, fish, whole grains, olive oil, vegetables, and fruits, but don’t be afraid to indulge yourself every now and then. Time with a glass of red wine or a piece of black. Chocolate. Said Zumpano. She suggests using this list as a guide to preparing meals and snacks with a healthy approach. A few simple changes can make a huge difference in your heart health.
Salmon and other oily fish like sardines and mackerel are the heart-healthy superstars. This is because they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to reduce the risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries), as well as lower triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, and preferably oily fish, at least twice a week. However, you can also get omega-3 rich fish oils as a dietary supplement, although they may not contain omega. -3 DHA and EPA found. specifically found in fatty fish.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can lower your cholesterol levels. “It acts like a sponge in the digestive tract, absorbing cholesterol so that it is cleared from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream,” said Lauren Graf, nutritionist, and co-director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center. In New York. Graf recommends avoiding instant oats, which often contain sugar, and opting for old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats.
Not just blueberries, but strawberries and other berries too. According to a 2013 study, women aged 25 to 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had a 32% lower risk of heart attacks than women who ate less. The study’s authors attributed the benefits to compounds called anthocyanins, flavonoids (antioxidants) that can lower blood pressure and widen blood vessels. Anthocyanins give plants their red and blue colors.
Several studies have now shown that dark chocolate can be beneficial for your heart. That includes 2012 when daily chocolate consumption was found to reduce heart attacks and non-fatal strokes in people at high risk for these problems. The results only apply to dark chocolate, that is, chocolate that is at least 60 to 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols that can help lower blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation. Unfortunately, milk chocolate and most candy bars don’t protect your heart.
Women who consume large amounts of the flavonoids found in oranges and grapefruits have a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke (caused by a clot) than women who do not take as many of these compounds in 2012. Citrus fruits are also high. Vitamin C, which has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Stick to whole citrus fruits, which also contain fiber or small servings of freshly squeezed or 100% citrus juice. And remember, grapefruit products can interfere with the work of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.
There is no reason to avoid potatoes as they are white and look like “bad” starch. As long as they’re not fried, potatoes can be good for your heart. They are high in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. And they’re high in fiber, which can lower your risk of heart disease. “It’s definitely not junk food or refined carbohydrates,” says Graf. “They have many health benefits.”
Tomato consumption in the US has increased, and that’s a good thing. Tomatoes, like potatoes, are rich in potassium, which is good for the heart. They are also a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that can help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol, keep blood vessels open, and reduce the risk of a heart attack. And because they are low in calories and sugar, they do not interfere with an already healthy diet. “They’re great for the body in many ways,” says Graf.
These include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, and macadamia nuts, all of which contain heart-boosting fiber. They also contain vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol. And some, like nuts, are high in a type of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is linked to anti-inflammatory and improved blood circulation. “Some people have avoided nuts in the past because they are high in fat, but most studies show that people who eat them daily are thinner than people who don’t,” says Graf. And thinner people have a lower risk of heart problems. Look for varieties that haven’t had a lot of salt added.
Because they come from plants, legumes like beans, lentils, and peas are a great source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fats. One study found that people who ate legumes at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate less than once a week. And legumes can help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. Lowering blood sugar is important to avoid complications from diabetes, including heart disease.
Extra-virgin olive oil
In a landmark study, people at high risk of heart disease who followed the Mediterranean diet (high in grains, fruits, vegetables) supplemented with nuts and at least four tablespoons of olive oil a day reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. by 30%. Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. The olives themselves, green and black, are another “good” source of fat, says Graf. And “they add a lot of flavor to salads,” he says.
Green tea, a long-standing favorite in Asia, has become increasingly popular in the west and can offer significant health benefits. A 2013 study found that people who drank four or more cups of green tea a day had a 20% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke than people who “rarely” drank the drink. The results echo an earlier study that found lower death rates, including death from heart disease, among avid green tea drinkers. Antioxidants known as catechins can be responsible for its effects.
These chewy, aromatic fruits have a reputation for providing healthy fats for the body and heart. Like olive oil, they are high in monounsaturated fat, which can lower risk factors for heart disease like cholesterol. They’re also high in antioxidants and potassium, Graf says. They can be eaten alone or mixed with guacamole, perhaps with heart-inducing tomatoes.