The foods you eat have a huge impact on your health. The American Heart Association states that a heart-healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease and promote better heart health. Eating a healthy diet can help reduce or even eliminate risk factors for heart disease, such as improving cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, reducing body weight, and lowering blood pressure. There are a lot of healthy foods that you can work into your diet to improve your heart health. Here are 10 of the best foods for heart health that can help lower your risk of heart disease.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
Some of the best foods for heart health are dark leafy greens. These include vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, arugula, and bok choy. These vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamin K is an especially great nutrient found in dark leafy greens, as it helps protect arteries and promote proper blood clotting. These vegetables also contain dietary nitrates which help open your blood vessels so that oxygen-rich blood can more easily reach your heart, reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are more of the best foods for heart health. These berries are filled with nutrients that play a vital role in heart health. They are also rich in antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to heart disease. These berries can also improve vascular function as well as the function of cells that line the blood vessels. This helps control blood pressure and clotting.
3. Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids have great benefits for heart health. You can find omega-3s in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. These fish are known for being some of the best foods for heart health and may provide protection against heart disease as well as slightly reduce the risk of arrhythmias. If you continue to eat fatty fish over the long term, you may experience lower levels of cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar. If you’re not a fan of seafood, you can take fish oil supplements to get your daily dose of omega-3s.
4. Whole Grains
Another group of some of the best foods for heart health is whole grains. Popular whole grains include brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat breads and pastas. While refined carbohydrates increase the risk of coronary heart disease, whole grains protect against it. Adding just one or two daily servings of whole grains to your diet may decrease your risk by 10-20%. Whole grains can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and hypertension.
5. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are some of the best foods for heart health because they are so nutrient-dense. For example, walnuts are a great source of fiber, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Almonds contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential for heart health and also contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are all sources of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that nuts and seeds like these can improve heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and triglycerides.
6. Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are also some of the best foods for heart health. Studies have found that eating these foods can decrease total and LDL cholesterol levels. They have also been found to improve blood pressure and glycemic control. These factors may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in individuals with diabetes. Just make sure you rinse canned beans and legumes before consuming to remove excess salt.
Garlic is a food that offers lots of medicinal benefits. One of those benefits is improving heart health. Garlic contains allicin, which has many therapeutic effects. Research has shown that garlic supplements can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and may even be as effective as common prescription blood pressure medications. Another benefit of garlic is that it can inhibit platelet buildup, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke.
8. Green Tea
Another one of the best foods for heart health is green tea. Green tea offers many health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, increased fat burning, and even cancer prevention. Green tea contains polyphenols and catechins that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation, prevent cell damage, and protect your heart. It may also improve blood pressure and glycemic control as well as reduce LDL cholesterol. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, you can take a green tea supplement to reap these benefits.
9. Dark Chocolate
The antioxidants that are found in dark chocolate, such as flavonoids, make it one of the best foods for heart health. If you eat dark chocolate in moderation, you may benefit from a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It’s recommended to eat less than six servings of dark chocolate per week to maximize the positive benefits while mitigating the negative effects. Choose a high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher to get the most benefits for your heart health.
Avocados are known as one of the best foods for heart health because they are rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Eating avocados may help improve triglyceride levels and vascular function. This food is also high in potassium, which is a nutrient that can help reduce blood pressure. One serving of avocado provides about 21% of the recommended daily intake of potassium.
Improve Your Heart Health with Our Help
These are some of the best foods for heart health that you should include in your diet if you want to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and improve glycemic control and vascular function. However, diet alone is often not enough to fully prevent heart disease. We offer a number of therapies to treat heart disease and help our patients improve heart health. Learn more about our approach to heart disease and how you can enjoy a better quality of life with our help.