The Best Foods for Heart Health
I’m sure you already know how incredible the heart is, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover just how truly miraculous it is.
For example, a typical heart beats more than 100,000 times a day and pumps 1.5 gallons of blood each minute. It’s also largely responsible for getting all that blood, which delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to organs and tissues near and far through more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
The heart is the powerhouse of the cardiovascular system.
To keep your heart pumping and blood flowing, you must fill your body with nourishing, nutrient-dense foods. Below is a loving list of the best heart-healthy foods to fill your fridge with.
Here’s to your healthiest heart yet!
Cold-Water Fatty Fish
A fish a day keeps the cardiologist away!
Cold-water fatty fish are an awesome source of EPA and DHA, long-chain omega3 fats that reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.
Eating at least two servings a week of cold-water fatty fish appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.
Cold-water fatty fish includes salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
Monounsaturated fats are dietary fats that typically come from plant sources and can provide health benefits.
Monounsaturated fats can help decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your blood. Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke. The quality of fat is much more important than the quantity when reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The best sources of monounsaturated fats are olives, olive oil, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and avocados.
Antioxidant-rich foods protect against heart disease in several important ways.
Your antioxidant defense system protects you from oxidative damage, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods plus reducing your exposure to oxidative stress (more on this a little later) is important.
A good rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow, choosing various colors of fruits and vegetables.
Foods like dark leafy greens, cabbage, blueberries, and pomegranates are wonderful sources of antioxidants. Aim for a total of 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruit every day. My personal favorites are blueberries, strawberries, kale, artichokes, and cabbage.
Make sure to read: 5 Essential Foods to Develop Your Intuition
Polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants, certain fungi, and a few animals.
Research shows polyphenols can help manage blood pressure levels and keep your blood vessels healthy and flexible, promoting good circulation. They can act as antioxidants which means they neutralize harmful free radicals that would otherwise damage your cells and increase your risk of conditions like heart disease.
Polyphenols also reduce inflammation, which is thought to be the root cause of many chronic illnesses like heart disease.
You can find polyphenols in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. In fact, the color in many fruits and vegetables like blueberries, eggplants, red potatoes, and apples comes from polyphenols.
Add turmeric to your dishes, drink green tea, eat citrus fruit and enjoy that piece of dark chocolate after dinner.
Okay, what the heck is soluble fiber? I’m so glad you asked.
There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. For the sake of this article, we are referring to the latter.
Soluble fiber is a dietary carbohydrate in plants that your body cannot digest. It is essential to your gut and overall health. Soluble fiber helps to bulk stool and is a vital food source for good bacteria in your large intestine. It not only helps you feel fuller and reduces constipation, but it also helps lower your cholesterol.
In a study where subjects were followed for more than 19 years, people who consumed the highest amount of quality soluble fiber intake had a 15% lower risk of heart disease and had a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular events.
Enjoy foods high in soluble fiber like sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, plantains, beets, carrots, squash, pumpkin, parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips.
A Note on Reducing Oxidative Stress
We live in a busy world where we can send a message around the globe and have it delivered in seconds, drive up to a window and order fast food 24 hours a day, or order something online and have it delivered within the same day.
Fast-paced living with an overloaded schedule can take its toll on the body over time.
Stress is a big factor in cardiovascular health, and yet it is rarely talked about. So along with eating nourishing foods, it’s critically important to take time to unplug, decompress, close your eyes and tune in to your inner self.
Some methods to try out include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, stretching, and walks in nature are all wonderful methods of going from a busy, overcrowded mind to a calm, centered presence.
Find what works for you and incorporate it into your day, stress-free!
Start Eating for Your Heart Today!
When it comes to food, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Choose vibrant colors and in-season fruit, eat cold-water fatty fish, enjoy your carbs rich in soluble fiber, and don’t be afraid of healthy fats like olive oil, macadamia nuts, olives, and avocados.
Related article: How to Start Addressing Pandemic-Related Stress