Foods That are Good for Your Heart
One of the most important constituents of a good life is a Healthy Heart! It is impossible to enjoy even the little joys of life if one is not hale & hearty.
However, in today’s era owing to a stressful working environment, lack of discipline, improper food habits, lack of exercise, etc., we’ve witnessed an increase in the occurrence of heart-related ailments. In fact, some studies highlight nearly a third of lives lost in the world today are due to heart-related ailment.
While this might be alarming and would lead one to believe a solution to this would be extremely complex the truth is small efforts towards one’s lifestyle can go a long way in keeping your heart-fighting fit.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables such as kale and spinach are renowned for having a host of much-needed minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K, which is known to promote appropriate clotting of blood and also protect arteries. These vegetables also contain nitrates, which aid in reducing arterial stiffness and blood pressure.
Avocados are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, and regular consumption has been repeatedly linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In a study performed with 45 overweight and obese individuals, it was shown that the group that consumed avocados saw a reduction in bad type of cholesterol, also known as LDL, which is closely linked to the risk of heart-related diseases. Additionally, avocados are also rich in potassium, which is essential for good heart health.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains are considered to be superior to refined grains since they contain all the 3 parts of the grain: bran, endosperm, and the germ. Whole grains are significantly richer in fiber and help in reducing the level of LDL cholesterol, which in turn decreases the risk of heart disease.
4. Fatty Fish
Fish such as mackerel and salmon contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids which has many heart-health benefits. Long-term fish consumption has been linked to lower blood triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and a decreased risk of heart disease. If you don’t consume much seafood, fish oil supplements are an excellent alternative.
Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are full of essential nutrients that play a key role in heart health. They are a great source of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which protect the heart against inflammation and oxidative stress. A study on daily blueberry consumption showed that it improves the function of cells lining blood vessels. This, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure and blood clotting. Berries also act as a tasty and healthy snack, and you need not feel guilty about indulging!
Tomatoes contain a certain plant pigment called lycopene which is known to have great antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and neutralize harmful radicals that may lead to heart disease. A study of 50 overweight women showed an increase in the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to remove excess plaque in the arteries, which can protect against stroke and heart disease.
Flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are excellent heart-healthy food since they are a source of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, which are conducive to good heart health. Multiple studies have established the link between consumption of these seeds and lowering of inflammation, cholesterol and blood pressure, in addition to triglyceride levels. Hemp seeds, in particular, are high in arginine, which has been linked with lowered levels of some inflammatory markers.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the richest sources of catechins and polyphenols, which are oxidants that greatly reduce inflammation, and also aid in heart health. A study of more than 1300 people who consumed green tea observed a decrease in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. [Ref] Another study showed that consumption of green tea extract for a period of 3 months reduced LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, in addition to lowering blood pressure.
Fruits are undoubtedly one of the healthiest foods that can be consumed. Fruit juices, however, must be avoided, since they contain nearly none of the fiber that is obtained by consuming the fruit itself. Some fruits that are good for the heart include orange, apple, papaya, and cantaloupes since they are rich in magnesium, potassium, and beta-carotene. Apples contain flavonoids that reduce platelet adhesion in arteries, in addition to relaxing and dilating them, ensuring good heart health.
Walnuts have been touted as a superfood for a long time. They are rich in manganese, copper, and magnesium in addition to being a great source of fiber. One study showed that regular consumption of walnuts may lead to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels by a staggering 16%, while also reducing the oxidative stress and inflammation.
Care Health Insurance (Formerly Religare Health Insurance) offers two comprehensive plans that cover heart diseases. Heart Mediclaim offers protection against 16 different heart diseases that may arise in the future. Care Heart is a health insurance policy that covers pre-existing heart illnesses.
Ensuring that your diet plan contains these heart-healthy foods is an excellent way to guarantee good heart health. Just incorporating a few of these foods can go a long way in helping maintain good health. Combined with an exercise routine and abstinence from junk food, heart disease will be the least of your worries!