"Eating the right diet is essential for long-term heart health"
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, so we all need to learn CPR and be vigilant about our own heart health. Eating the right diet is essential for long-term heart health—but with so much information online it can be nearly impossible to figure out what foods truly keep your heart in tip-top shape. Here’s a quick list of the best foods to eat, and why they’re so good for your heart.
1. Whole Grains: There are so many healthy options in this category: Brown rice, oats, rye, barley, and quinoa, just to name a few. Why eat whole grains? The occasional bowl of oatmeal can go a long way: Whole grains rank higher in fiber, meaning they help reduce bad cholesterol and lessen the risk of heart disease.
2. Leafy Green Vegetables: Foods like broccoli, spinach, and kale are known for their rich vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They're known to reduce blood pressure, and some studies even show a link between eating more green vegetables and a lowered chance of heart disease. Mix some of these foods for a colorful tasty salad like this one!
3. Berries, berries, berries: It's hard to find a berry that isn't good for your heart. Cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and many others are stacked with nutrients that boost heart health. Another key ingredient: they are high in antioxidants, which lowers inflammation that can play a role in developing heart disease.
4. Fish: Heart healthy foods are often rich in omega-3s—healthy fats that can help lower your blood pressure and risk of heart problems. Fish like salmon and tuna are great foods with high amounts of omega-3s. If you don't eat seafood, you can always take fish oil supplements for many of the same health benefits.
5. Avocados: Guacamole, anyone? Avocados are known for supplying heart healthy fats that can help prevent heart disease. High in potassium, avocados can be eaten by themselves or mixed with other vegetables for a healthy and delicious treat. Who knows, maybe eating enough avocados can help your state rank higher on the list of healthiest states.
6. Garlic: It has long been used for a variety of problems (including warding off vampires). But garlic's best use wasn’t discovered until recently: it can improve heart health, particularly if consumed raw. One study even concluded that garlic was just as effective at reducing blood pressure as a common prescription drug!
7. Nuts: High in fiber and vitamin E, nuts help lower bad cholesterol—just be sure you find varieties with low amounts of salt and calories. Two good options are walnuts and almonds. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds have been associated with reducing the buildup of plaque on artery walls.
8. Beans: Beans are known to reduce cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease. There are a wide variety of beans to choose from—in particular, black beans and pinto beans are packed with nutrients like folate, magnesium, and antioxidants. Be sure to add some to your next bowl of soup!
9. Tomatoes: Tomato consumption is on the rise in the United States, and that might be a good thing. Tomatoes are full of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that helps lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. There aren’t many health drawbacks to tomatoes—so they can slide into any diet with ease.
10. Dark Chocolate: Saving the best for last? Dark chocolate might be the most popular heart healthy food. Several studies find eating dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease. Bear in mind that chocolate is also high in sugar and calories which can counteract some of the benefits to your heart; so try to enjoy chocolate in moderation.