Heart disease is the leading health concern in the world, so focusing on your heart is a priority and a must to live a better life. Among the ways to improve your heart health are exercising, getting enough sleep, monitoring and keeping your BMI on track, avoiding a poor lifestyle, and most importantly, fueling your body with nutritious food.
Following a healthy cardiac diet is recommended for people with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or any other history of heart disease. But even if you don’t have any heart health concerns, having a well-balanced, nutritious diet is still important because it lessens your risk of cardiac diseases in the future.
Having proper nutrition plays a major role in keeping your heart running well, so make sure you are eating the right foods that provide benefits for your heart. Here are seven nutritious foods you should eat to maximize your cardiac diet.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in antioxidants and are a good source of Vitamin K, which promotes better blood flow to avoid clotting. Green vegetables are high in dietary nitrates that reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Overall, greens improve cell function, lessening the risk of heart disease.
What to Eat
- Bok Choy
- Salad greens
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
Berries are among the healthiest foods in the world—packed with antioxidants like anthocyanins, these protect against inflammation that triggers heart disease. Berries are low in calories but high in vitamin C and fiber, which lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and oxidative stress. Incorporating berries into your diet can reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. For instance, a study shows taking a beverage made of strawberries for eight weeks lessened bad cholesterol in the system of adults with metabolic syndrome. Another study also showed that blueberries improve cell function, which in turn, helps manage blood pressure.
What to Eat:
3. Fish Oil and Fatty Fish
Fatty fish and fish oil are highly recommended superfoods that possess extensive benefits for the heart. Loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, fish lowers blood triglycerides and improve arterial function. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), essential acids and nutrients in managing heart diseases. These nutrients reduce the likelihood of stroke and heart attack, lessen the chance of abnormal heart rhythm and sudden cardiac death, and slow down the development of plaque in the arteries. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish should be taken at least twice a week for a healthy functioning heart.
What to Eat:
- Lake Trout
4. Dark Chocolate
Quality dark chocolate or cocoa—not loaded with saturated fat and sugar—is one of the best sources of antioxidants on Earth. This scrumptious dessert is not only delightful to eat, but also helps your immune system with its disease-fighting antioxidants. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate on a regular basis can be beneficial for your health. However, moderation is the key since dark chocolates are still high in calories and may result in weight gain. Small amounts of dark chocolate, on the other hand, can fit well into a balanced cardiac diet. Dark chocolates are rich in flavanols, a type of plant compound with powerful antioxidants that help reduce the risk of heart disease.
How Dark Chocolate Helps:
- This treat controls chronic inflammation that can lead to heart disease
- It lowers insulin resistance, reducing the risk of diabetes
- It processes nitric oxide, improving blood flow, including the brain
- This nutritious food makes platelets less sticky, which can trigger stroke or heart attack
Eating heart-healthy nuts is an easy and inexpensive way to lower your risk of cardiac disease. Research has found that people who incorporate nuts in their daily diet have lowered their risk of heart ailments. Aside from being packed with protein, heart-healthy nuts have fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol and prevent diabetes. The AHA recommends eating about four servings of nuts per week, particularly raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than salted nuts cooked in oil.
What to Eat:
- Brazil Nuts
Avocados are naturally cholesterol-free and have heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, making them an excellent superfood that is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. This creamy treat is also rich in potassium, which is a nutrient vital to heart health. Just one avocado provides 975 milligrams of potassium or around 28 percent of the amount an individual needs in a day. Taking at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day can reduce blood pressure and stroke.
7. Whole Grain
Whole grains are naturally packed with fiber, which helps in maintaining healthy body weight. Compared to refined, whole grains have higher fiber content, which helps lessen bad cholesterol. Many studies show that incorporating whole grains into your diet can be beneficial for your heart health. At least three servings of whole grains per day can decrease systolic blood pressure, which in turn, reduces the risk of stroke.
What to Eat:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat crackers
- Whole wheat bread
Once you know which food to eat more for a healthier heart, you will be reaping the benefits such as becoming more alert, feeling lighter, and actually being healthy from within. Start your way toward a healthier path with these nutritious foods and make a personal promise to maintain a good cardiac diet— your future self will surely thank you. Eat right and treat your heart right!