In addition to regular physical activity, one of the best ways you can prevent heart disease is by having a heart-healthy diet – and, regardless of whether or not you are at risk of developing heart disease, eating healthy is something we should all strive to do. Along with significantly reducing your risk of heart disease, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet has many other health benefits – including giving your body essential nutrients required for growth and repair, giving you more energy throughout the day, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and even reducing the risk of type II diabetes and certain types of cancer. Below are some of the top 10 heart-healthy foods that you can work into your diet.
Wild, not farmed; and grilled, not baked, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can improve metabolic markers for heart disease. In addition, salmon is also rich in an antioxidant known as selenium, which has been shown to boost cardiovascular protection. Selenium is also important for thyroid health, can boost the immune system, can help prevent asthma, as well as prevent mental decline. Similarly, sardines are also rich in antioxidants and provide many of the same benefits.
Certain nuts like walnuts and almonds are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as fibre, folate, and Vitamin E – all of which are great for the heart. These nuts (walnuts, especially) are also high in polyunsaturated fats. Read more about the benefits of nuts (and find out which nuts aren’t so great for you) at http://alighahary.ca/nuts/.
Sunflower seeds can help improve cholesterol levels, and improved cholesterol levels means your chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke will become significantly lower. They’re also a rich source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are known for reducing LDL levels – also known as the bad cholesterol. Consuming a small amount of chia seeds can also help reduce bad cholesterol as well as reduce the buildup of plaque. A spoonful of chia seeds contains just 60 calories, and they are great mixed in yogurt or sprinkled on salad.
Dark coloured berries, such as blackberries and blueberries are great for the heart. Blueberries are packed with an antioxidant known as resveratrol, which has many benefits for the heart and overall health. Blueberries are also packed with flavonoids, which help prevent coronary disease. Along with being good for the heart, blackberries are packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, they’re high in fibre, and can boost brain health.
If you’re a coffee drinker, consider switching to tea – green tea, in particular. While coffee has both pros and cons, tea – especially those that are herbal, like green tea – have many benefits. Just one cup can help reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and can even reduce blood clots. It’s rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and catechin.
If you use regular animal milk, consider switching to soy milk. It’s high in an organic compound known as isoflavones, which has been proven to help reduce cholesterol and therefore decrease the risk of heart disease. Soy milk is also low in fat and high in niacin, which helps to boost circulation. You can use soy milk in your coffee, tea, cereal, or even smoothies and certain recipes.