Healthy Foods That Help Prevent Heart Disease
News about heart-healthy diets often focus more on what we shouldn’t eat rather than on what we should. We know to avoid the sugar- and salt-laden processed foods, trans fats, highly refined grains, and other products that deplete our energy, cause weight gain, and contribute to heart disease. But what about the healthy foods we should eat to reduce the chance of heart disease? The following are some of the best.
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts: Nuts literally bring a lot to the table. They help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by interfering with its absorption and their unsaturated oils support the liver’s production of good cholesterol (HDL). They may also lower your risk of developing the blood clots that can cause heart attacks. As the Mayo Clinic points out, nuts are high in calories, but their nutritional benefits make them an excellent replacement for unhealthy snacks and should be included in our diets.
Lentils: These edible seeds are packed with nutrition, including magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure. In addition to helping control blood sugar due to its fiber, research has shown that the antioxidants in lentils lower the chances of developing atherosclerosis.
Kale: This dark, leafy green checks a lot of nutritional boxes, containing vitamins A and C, phytochemicals, potassium, omega-3 fatty acid, heart-healthy antioxidants, and much more. A study shows its high lutein content may also protect against atherosclerosis.
Sardines: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health, and sardines are one of the best sources. These tiny fish reduce arrhythmias and inflammation, increase HDL, and lower triglycerides. According to Prevention, the long-chain omega-3s in cold-water fish such as sardines are even better than the type of healthy omega-3 acids in plant sources.
Dark chocolate: Milk chocolate fans should make room for dark chocolate in their diets to gain the positive effects it has on hypertension. Just a few pieces a day is enough to improve the elasticity of blood vessels, thanks to its high concentration of flavanols.
Blueberries: Blueberries help lower the risk of heart attack, thanks to being high in antioxidants such as resveratrol, a powerful anti-inflammatory. They also have the added bonus of being a great source of vitamin C and fiber. A study conducted by Harvard that gathered data from more than 90,000 women over 18 years showed that those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 34 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who ate the least.
More Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating
There are plenty of ways to make your daily diet more heart-friendly, such as limiting your intake of saturated fats, avoiding artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup, choosing healthier oils, reducing your sodium intake, and including fiber-rich whole grains. At Native Sun, we make it easier to watch what you eat, because all of our grocery and freezer items are free of high fructose corn syrup; hydrogenated oils; and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. And, as always, our produce is 100-percent organic. Read more about our standards and what you won’t find on our shelves.