Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.  Diet is a crucial component that can influence whether a person may develop heart disease.  The following list of heart healthy foods may help improve health.

Leafy green vegetables:  Leafy greens are high in vitamin K and nitrates.  They can reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function.  Studies show that leafy greens have an association with a lower heart disease risk.

Whole grains:  Studies show that eating whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa, can lower cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and heart disease risk due to the high fiber content.  Look for phrases like “whole grain” or “whole wheat” on food packaging, which will indicate a whole-grain product as opposed to “wheat flour” or “multigrain.”

Berries:  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are full of nutrients and contain antioxidants, which can help prevent heart disease and cancer.  A 22-study analysis showed that eating berries had an association with LDL cholesterol reduction, lower systolic blood pressure, and reduced body mass index.  Berries can make a great snack or dessert.

AvocadosAvocados provide monounsaturated fats and are rich in potassium.  Monounsaturated fats have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease.  One study showed that the consumption of avocados reduced the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and another study showed that people who eat avocados are ½ as likely to develop metabolic syndrome.  Potassium has been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.

 Fatty Fish and Fish Oil: Eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines has the potential to decrease diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar.  They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which provide great heart benefits.  In addition, fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, improve arterial function, and decrease blood pressure.

Olive OilOlive oil contains antioxidants, which can help with inflammation and chronic disease.  Also, it contains monounsaturated fats that have been shown to help with heart health.  One study has shown that eating olive oil can provide as much as a 35% lower heart disease risk and 48% lower risk from dying of heart disease.  With its great diversity, olive oil works great as a cooking accessory, drizzled over cooked foods or added to vinaigrettes and sauces.

 

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