8 Foods to Keep the Heart Healthy

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Cardiovascular disease kills millions of people each year according to the World Health Organization or WHO. And when it comes to food, what you eat matters to your heart. Good thing there are certain foods that can curb the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases. In today’s post, we are listing down healthy, heart-friendly foods:

1. Salmon

Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that protect the body from inflammation. It can also boost blood circulation and prevent blood clotting. Blood clot is the cause of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acid works by reducing triglycerides or “bad cholesterol” in the blood. Studies show that elevated triglycerides in the blood can lead to heart disease.

According to the American Heart Association, you have to consume 3.5 ounces of salmon or any oily fish once a week to maximize its heart-friendly benefits! Apart from salmon, you can also try sardines, tuna or herring.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Just eating 5 ounces of walnuts every week can cut the risk of heart disease by 50%! Studies show that walnuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fats. These beneficial fats reduce the level of triglycerides in the body while increasing HDL or good cholesterol in the blood.  Great substitutes for walnuts are almonds and cashews.

3. Raspberries

All types of berries are loaded with heart-friendly antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Antioxidants and phytochemicals protect the cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the precursor to heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Antioxidants work by neutralizing the effects of free radicals. These are reactive molecules that destroy healthy cells. Raspberries are also loaded with vitamin C, a nutrient linked to lower risk of stroke.

4. Chickpeas

Did you know that legumes and all types of beans are a great source of dietary fiber? Fiber is a nutrient that strengthens the heart by lowering the bad cholesterol level in the blood. Chickpeas, in particular, are extremely high in fiber! Maximize the heart-friendly benefits of chickpeas by reducing sodium.

5. Steel-cut Oats

Steel cut oats contain a special class of dietary fiber called beta-glucan. Studies show that beta-glucan curbs the risk of heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol in the blood significantly. In fact, eating a serving of oats everyday can minimize your risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to 30%.

6. Olive oil

A staple in the Italian and Mediterranean diet, olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, the good kind of fat. Replacing vegetable oil or animal lard with olive oil in cooking is one way to cut the risk of heart disease. Bad cholesterol builds up in the arteries, causing arterial blockages that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

7. Dark Chocolate

Here’s a surprise, dark chocolate is a heart-friendly food! It contains flavanols, a type of cocoa-derived antioxidant that protects the heart from diseases. It works by keeping fat plaques from sticking and building up within the arterial wall. To maximize the heart-friendly benefits of dark chocolates, go for chocs with 70% cocoa.

8. Avocados

Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats. Studies show that monounsaturated fats keep cholesterol level down. These beneficial fats also protect the tissues from internal inflammation and hardening of the artery walls. Regular consumption of avocados keeps the arterial walls flexible and strong enough to withstand blood pressure.

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