- September 27, 2018
- Posted by: Stephen Coleclough
- Category: Health
Eating a diet that contains a wide range of nutritious foods can promote good heart health and greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The key is to enjoy a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, whole grains, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats.
This guide will highlight some of the best foods to include in your diet if you want to protect the health of your cardiovascular system.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and acai berries are packed with beneficial antioxidants that can improve heart health.
One particularly useful group of antioxidants found in most types of berries are called anthocyanins.
They will protect the body from inflammation and oxidative stress that increases the risk of heart disease.
Scientists have also found that anthocyanin extracts have demonstrated significant improvements in LDL oxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, lipid peroxidation, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism — which are risk factors of heart disease.
LDL oxidation is particularly important as it reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood stream.
High levels of bad cholesterol are a concern because they can cause atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries become clogged with plaque.
Strawberries may be particularly useful for reducing the risk of atherosclerosis through LDL oxidation, according to one study.
A meta-study published by Chinese researchers in 2016 looked at the results of 22 other studies and confirmed the important role that berries play in combating heart disease.
This study found that berries undoubtedly improve LDL cholesterol, body mass index, and systolic blood pressure levels.
They also found that berries reduce certain markers of inflammation.
The best part about adding berries to your diet is that they are delicious and can be eaten in place of unhealthy snacks that are loaded with sugar.
Fatty fish and fish oil
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout and other fatty fish have very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to offer many incredible health benefits.
One study from researchers in Iceland found that eating salmon 3 times a week could decrease blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Other studies have been published which confirm omega-3’s ability to reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure levels.
Taking fish oil supplements is also useful for protecting the body against heart disease, with multiple studies showing that fish oil supplements can improve arterial function and reduce blood pressure.
Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid treats!
Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant that can improve heart health.
A large scale study of 4,970 participants performed by researchers from the Harvard Medical School found that people who ate dark chocolate multiple times per week had a lower risk of heart disease.
Another large study followed 21,000 residents living in Norfolk, England for 11 years.
They found that 12% of the people who ate the most dark chocolate had developed heart disease, compared to 17.4% of people who didn’t eat chocolate.
One of the reasons why dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease is because it can combat atherosclerosis.
A study from Harvard Medical School found that chocolate consumption is inversely associated with calcified atherosclerotic plaque.
The study involved 2,217 participants of the NHLBI Family Heart Study.
It is important to note that these findings use dark chocolate that is high in cocoa.
This type of chocolate does not contain as much sugar or saturated fat as milk chocolate.
Tomatoes are a fantastic addition to your diet.
They are delicious and are packed with nutrients that can protect the heart.
One of the most powerful components of tomatoes is lycopene, which is an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their colour.
Researchers have found that people with a high intake of foods containing lycopene have a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
Conversely, people with low blood levels of lycopene have a greater likelihood of stroke and heart disease.
Another study found that people who ate two to four tomatoes each week had higher levels of HDL cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol that can remove excess cholesterol from the blood, keep arteries healthy, and protect against heart disease.
HDL cholesterol also reduces the risk of blood clots, lowering the likelihood of stroke.
Tomatoes have also been shown to reduce inflammation which can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
As an added bonus, tomatoes are very high in Vitamins A, B, C, and E, Folate, and Potassium, which are important nutrients for maintaining good health.
Garlic is a wonderful accompaniment to tomatoes if you are enjoying bruschetta or a pasta dish.
It also has some excellent health benefits and can help to keep your heart healthy.
The main reason for garlic’s health benefits is the presence of a compound called allicin.
The compound has an antimicrobial effect, moderates blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Multiple studies have confirmed the ability of garlic to protect the heart.
One study that found that taking garlic for 24 weeks could reduce blood pressure as much as low dose blood pressure medication.
A meta-study that examined 39 large scale studies found that garlic could substantially reduce LDL cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
This reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Finally, garlic is also effective at inhibiting platelet build up — reducing the risk of blood clots that could cause a stroke.
Thanks for reading 5 Foods For A Healthy Heart!
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