Worried that your diet is lacking in heart-healthy nutrients? It might be wise to do some brainstorming about adding some of these foods to your meals. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide and accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States alone. Coronary heart disease, the most commonly occurring form of cardiovascular ailments for Americans, kills more 370,000 people annually. Sodium-rich foods and processed foods can cause heart problems, as well as foods high in trans or saturated fats, which can raise LDL cholesterol, which can be an another dangerous contributor to heart disease.
And while most Americans are well aware that they should be eating healthier to potentially prevent a fatal heart attack, most do not take action to incorporate these nutrients into their diets. Of course, exercise and refraining from smoking or drinking alcohol are also of great importance to your cardiovascular health, but try to see where you can fit these essential foods into your meal plans for a stable, and well-functioning heart.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids- The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty acid rich fish, like salmon or sardines, per week. These acids reduce the growth of plaque, as well as work to reduce inflammation. They can be found in olives and olive oil, nuts, avocados, and seeds.
2. Fiber- A diet full of fiber can lead to reduced levels of LDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, experts say. Whole grains and legumes are two major food groups which can provide you with the fiber you need to fight heart disease. Oats, brown rice, peas, lentils, and kidneys beans, all which are full of protein, can be utilized in your diet to substitute for meats full of saturated fats.
3. Antioxidants- Antioxidant filled fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease. Antioxidants help the body to rid itself of free radicals, which can cause damage to the cardiovascular system. Stick with fruits and veggies which are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and carotenoids. Go for greens like spinach and kale, tomatoes, citruses, and blueberries. Even tea has been shown to be packed with antioxidants, and even dark chocolate has been linked to lowering cholesterol.