There is no one magic food that guarantees a healthy heart. But by adding a range of heart healthy foods to your diet everyday, it goes a long way to helping you avoid the emergency room or operating table.
Before looking at a list of heart healthy food, let’s look at the key nutrients in these foods that contribute to a healthy heart.
1) Phytoestrogen – It has a weak estrogen-like action in the body that lowers bad cholesterol ( LDL), triglyceride and blood pressure.
2) Phytosterol – Plant sterols that resemble cholesterol. They compete with cholesterol and interfere with cholesterol production as well as absorption in the intestine.
3) Polyphenol – A group of antioxidants that react with free radicals and prevent them from oxidizing cholesterol, which is the cause of plaque formation.
5) Vitamin B Complex – Vitamin B12 and B6 prevent blood clot. Vitamin B3 increase good cholesterol (HDL).
6) Vitamin C and E – Powerful antioxidants to prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the blood.
The essence of preventing heart diseases is having high level of the above nutrients that prevent and repair damages to the blood vessel and heart muscle cells. Here are the food groups that contain plenty of these nutrients.
1) Whole Grains
Grains that are milled into flour have a longer shelf life. But the milling process removes the kernel, which is rich in vitamin B complex , minerals and fiber. The insoluble and soluble fibers from whole grain scrub the artery wall and prevent the bad cholesterol from sticking onto it and forming plaque over time.
Whole grains such as oat, millet, barley, quinoa, brown rice are excellent source of complex carbohydrates and energy.
2) Fruits and Vegetables
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain plenty of polyphenol, which are powerful antioxidants. Soluble fiber from fruits help to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine and also pass it out of the body.
Have at least 7 servings of wide varieties of fruits and vegetables a day. Strong antioxidants can be obtained from tomatoes, broccoli, pomegranate, apples, spinach and berries.
Beans of all kinds contain soluble fibers, antioxidants from polyphenol, vitamins and minerals. Studies have found, eating half a cup of bean a day lowers the cholesterol. Examples of legumes are soybean, kidney bean, lentil, lima bean and chickpeas.
Nuts are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. They are good fats required by the body, but we don’t get enough of. Almond and walnuts are the best and they contain a high amount of antioxidants, vitamin E, folate and magnesium.
Oily fishes such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and swordfish are rich in Omega-3. The American Heart Association recommends eating salmon and other Omega-3 rich food at least 2 times a week.
Alcohol is actually a blood thinner. Taken in moderation, can help to lower viscosity of the blood and increase good cholesterol. Red wine is the best as it is rich in polyphenol antioxidants such as reservatrol.
Make sure your daily diet consist of the above foods and nutrients and you are well on your way to maintaining a healthy heart.
How much of these foods are you eating? Share with me in the comment box below.
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