5 Foods for a Healthy Heart

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by Editorial Board on April 23, 2013 · 0 comments

in Health & Wellness,Living with a Disability

Your heart is a vital part of your body’s system – it keeps the blood flowing around your body so you continue to function normally. If your arteries get blocked with fatty deposits, you could be in serious trouble.

Eating for a healthy heart isn’t about choosing one “miracle food” and eating that at every meal. A “whole foods” diet – based on fresh, healthy foods that come from nature – is the best way to maintain a healthy heart.

Here are five heart-healthy foods you can enjoy:

1. Whole Grains

Say goodbye to white bread, surgery cereals, white rice and pasta, and hello to multi-grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa. Whole grains contain anti-oxidants, phytosterols and phytoestrogens, which help fight coronary disease.

The fiber in whole grains is also vital for good health.

You can enjoy whole grains everyday: have a bowl of oatmeal topped with natural yogurt and strawberries for breakfast, a wholegrain sandwich for lunch, and curry with brown rice for dinner.

2. Oily Fish

If you eat fish at least twice a week, you can lower your risk of coronary heart disease by around 30%. It’s the omega 3 in salmon, tuna and other oily fish that lowers blood pressure and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream.

3. Beans

There’s a song that goes, “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart …” I won’t sing the rest, but that part is certainly true! According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, eating a ½ cup of cooked pinto beans every day will lower cholesterol by as much as 30%.

Beans are filled with soluble fiber, which binds with cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. They’re also jam-packed with good-heart flavonoid chemicals, just like other heart-healthy foods: berries, chocolate and red wine.

4. Chocolate

It’s true – eating a moderate (the key word is moderate) amount of chocolate can benefit cardiovascular health and boost the immune system. This is because cocoa is rich in flavonoids and epicatechin, which help keep blood vessels healthy.

But be sure to choose dark chocolate – with 70% cocoa solids. Milk and white chocolate contain significantly more sugar and little of the epicatechin compound.

5. Apples

It is said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and this could be true for heart disease. The homely apple contains high levels of flavonoid components that prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.

Apples also contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol.

There are lots of other foods that are good for the heart, including berries, yogurt, pomegranates, nuts, green tea, and popcorn (as long as it isn’t smothered in butter, salt or icing sugar).

When trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, the important thing to remember is to choose natural, whole foods – whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish – and eliminate processed foods, fat, sugar and salt. By sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, your heart will be in good shape for years to come.

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