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Health and Fitness News

Eat for Your Heart

Make your heart happy with these foods.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women across the globe. Encompassing numerous heart and blood vessel problems, including heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, heart failure, and valve problems, heart attack often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

Many heart problems are traced back to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries. As arteries become narrower, blood flow decreases, blood clots are more likely, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood. When it becomes too difficult to pump, disaster strikes.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take heart disease lying down. Diet is a vital way to help prevent heart disease. That’s right—the foods you eat can either harm or help your heart. Take care of your ticker by including the following foods in your diet.

1. Almonds

It’s well known that snacking on nuts is good for heart health. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios are high in unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin E, plant sterols, and fiber, all of which are powerful fighters against heart disease, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. While they’re high in calories, a handful does you more good than harm. Purchase nuts that are low in sodium, such as almonds.

2. Salmon

Salmon and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, herring, mackerel, and trout) should be a regular part of a heart-healthy diet. Omega-3s are known to help prevent atherosclerosis and arrhythmia. If you don’t eat much fish, you can take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

3. Black Beans

Legumes (peas, lentils, and beans) are a great source of protein that don’t come with unhealthy fats. They’re also high in fiber. You likely know that fiber is good for your digestive system, but did you know it also helps your circulatory system? It’s true! Fiber does this by reducing bad LDL cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, aiding in weight loss, and reducing your risk of diabetes and stroke.

4. Blueberries

Any and all fruits and vegetables are good for your heart, but some are a bit better than others. Blueberries and other berries are especially high in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and soluble fiber that help to keep the circulatory system in good shape by lowering blood pressure and dilating blood vessels.

5. Dark Chocolate

Eating healthy isn’t about deprivation. Enjoy a little dark chocolate each day knowing you’re doing your heart a favor. Look for varieties with at least 60 to 70 percent cocoa. Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols that reduce blood pressure, inflammation, and clotting. Sadly, milk chocolate doesn’t do your heart any good, so stick to the dark chocolate. Your heart will thank you.

6. Tomatoes

Red, raw, juicy tomatoes are good for you, but not as good for your heart as cooked, processed tomatoes. Processed tomatoes are especially high in lycopene, an antioxidant that provides powerful heart benefits that range from reducing inflammation and preventing blood clotting to lowering cholesterol and dilating blood vessels, all of which lower your risk of heart disease.

7. Avocado

Enjoy some guacamole for heart health. Avocadoes are extremely rich in monounsaturated fats, potassium, and antioxidants, which all work to lower your risk factors for heart disease. Just don’t eat too much, as it can add to your waistline!

8. Broccoli

Fill up on broccoli and any other vegetable you can find. There’s no such thing as an unhealthy vegetable, but green veggies pack the most powerful punch. High in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, green vegetables fight to keep your heart in tip-top shape.

9. Oatmeal

Whole grains are an important part of a heart healthy diet. They’re a great source of fiber and other nutrients that help keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Buy products made with 100-percent whole grains and skip the white breads, cereals, and pastas made with refined white flour that does nothing good for your heart or waistline.