Heart disease is currently the biggest killer in the entire world, which means that it is responsible for more deaths than any other disease, even cancer. Looking after our hearts is vitally important yet many of us unfortunately simply don’t look after them. You probably know that consuming a diet rich in unhealthy fats, salt, sugar, and artificial ingredients, along with leading a sedentary lifestyle, and making other poor choices such as smoking, is one of the biggest causes of heart disease, yet people still continue to lead increasingly unhealthy lifestyles because they always think that nothing bad will ever happen to them. As we grow older however, we begin to discover that perhaps we aren’t invincible and that perhaps we should have taken a little more care of our bodies, especially our hearts, which is one of our most vital organs. The good news however, is that just as there are foods that are bad for, and can damage the heart, there are also foods that are healthy and have been proven to actually benefit the heart, and the cardiovascular system in general. Here we’ll be taking a look at some of the best heart-healthy foods you could ever wish to consume.
When it comes to heart healthy produce, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more healthy food than salmon. Salmon is an oily fish that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are so incredibly beneficial for the heart because they help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, clogged arteries, and heart attacks. Studies have also found that omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the likelihood of an individual suffering from arrhythmia, which is basically an irregular heartbeat. It also reduces the amount of plaque allowed to build up in the arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis. Salmon isn’t just beneficial for the heart however, it also helps promote healthy muscle mass, cellular health, and brain health as well.
When people think about heart health, they tend to avoid fatty foods as the general consensus is that all fats are bad and therefore all fats can lead to heart disease and heart attacks. This is not true however, because in reality, healthy fats including poly and mono-unsaturated fats, are extremely beneficial for the heart. Guess which food also happens to be rich in these healthy fats. Yep, you guessed it, good ole avocado. Again, avocado is so beneficial because the fats it contains can help to reduce LDL cholesterol in the body, which in turn means that a person is less likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), blocked arteries, stroke, heart disease, or heart attacks.
If you’re looking for a healthy and nutritious breakfast food to start your day off right, look no further than oatmeal. Oatmeal is a delicious, easy to make, cheap to purchase, and highly underrated food product that is renowned for its many health properties. One of the main reasons why oatmeal is so beneficial is because it is rich in soluble fiber, which means that the fiber breaks down when it comes into contact with water in our stomachs and digestive tracts. This is important because soluble fiber has been proven to act almost like a form of filter within the digestive tract, where it is able to absorb unhealthy cholesterol and soak it up before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This is important because bad LDL cholesterol coats the blood vessels and arteries, and eventually leads to fatty build ups and deposits that reduce blood flow, increase blood pressure, reduce circulation, and eventually calcify and turn to plaque where they can lead to blood clots and heart attacks. Ridding the body of this fatty cholesterol before it reaches the bloodstream is extremely beneficial which is why oatmeal is so effective. To help make it extra healthy, avoid adding extra salt, butter, and sugar, and instead consume them more natural, or add a little honey for sweetness, plus some mixed berries.
Blueberries are considered a super-fruit/super-food because they are stocked to the gills full of powerful antioxidants and flavonoids that are extremely healthy and beneficial for the body. Numerous studies have found that individuals that regularly consume blueberries, are around 33% less likely to suffer from a heart attack or heart disease than those that didn’t consume these delicious little berries regularly. The main reason why they’re so heart healthy is that they contain compounds which are known as anthocyanins which help to reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, and dilate the blood vessels in the process. It is these anthocyanins, which are a form of antioxidant, that give blueberries their distinct blue/purple colours.
Contrary to popular belief, not all chocolate is unhealthy, particularly dark chocolate which is around 70 – 85% pure cocoa. A number of studies have revealed that not only is dark chocolate considered far healthier than milk chocolate, it can also help to greatly reduce a person’s likelihood of suffering from a heart attack and/or a stroke. Dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants which are known as polyphenols. This is important to know because polyphenols help to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and blood clotting, which in turn helps reduce hypertension, which is a common trigger for heart attacks.
Organic and natural nuts are another great example of a healthy food that is ideal for maintaining and promoting optimal heart health. Walnuts for example, are packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, whereas other nuts such as Macadamia and almonds, also contain healthy poly and mono-unsaturated fats, as well as fiber as well. From looking at the above, we now know why healthy fats are so important, and why fiber is so important for a healthy heart. If possible always opt for organic nuts, but failing that, go for natural nuts instead. Never choose nuts with added salts/flavourings because these are far less healthy and are actually pretty bad for you, even in relatively small quantities.