Being overweight is just one factor that puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke. A heart-healthy diet can help you lose weight or lower cholesterol, blood pressure, or triglycerides. The foods we eat can positively affect cardiovascular health, and we can learn how to enhance our diets by consistently eating a heart-protective diet. Additionally, a growing number of people are starting to recognize that making proactive lifestyle changes that can prevent CVD is worth adoption.
- Oranges. Oranges contain pectin, the soluble fiber pectin acts like a giant sponge, sopping up cholesterol in food and blocking its absorption, just like a class of drugs known as bile acid sequestrates. The potassium in oranges helps counterbalance salt, keeping blood pressure under control. Citrus pectin helps neutralize a protein called galectin-3 that causes scarring of heart tissue, leading to congestive heart failure–a condition that is often difficult to treat with drugs. Pectin is contained in the pulp and pith. You’ll get more of it in juice with pulp. Or better yet, eat your oranges.
- Kale. Kale has everything you would want in a super food. Kale boasts a bumper crop of heart-healthy antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin E. Kale even contains an unusual compound, glucoraphanin, that activates a special protective protein called Nrf2. “It creates a sort of coating in your arteries to keep plaque from adhering,”
- Garlic. Like the ACE inhibitor drugs that fight high blood pressure, garlic ratchets down an enzyme called angiotensin, which constricts blood vessels. Though the effect is modest compared with medications, garlic seems to have a significant impact on the buildup of plaque, plaque progression slows by more than 50 percent in people taking garlic.
- Chocolate. Chocolate is rich in compounds called flavanols, which improve blood vessel flexibility. We can all get them from chocolate, a few squares a day. Dark chocolate is likely to have more, because it starts with a higher cocoa content.
- Sardines. The omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish are crucial for heart health, and sardines have among the highest levels. These “good fats” lower harmful triglycerides, raise protective HDL, reduce potentially fatal heart arrhythmias, and tamp down inflammation. It’s inflammation that ultimately destabilizes plaque, causing it to rupture and produce a heart-attack-inducing clot. Though you can get omega-3s from plant sources such as flaxseed, the “long chain” omega-3s in fish are far more powerful.
- Lintels. Lintels not only provide lean vegetable protein and fiber but also folate, magnesium, and potassium. Magnesium is nature’s own calcium channel blocker and is a type of drug that fights hypertension also by counterbalancing salt, potassium is crucial for keeping blood pressure under control.
- Almonds. The plant sterols in almonds reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the diet; while the unsaturated oils encourage the liver to make less LDL and more “good” HDL. Just 22 almonds a day will do also don’t bound yourself to almonds walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts are also great.
- Pomegranates. Pomegranate juice, with its unique antioxidants, not only blocks the progression of plaque, but actually reverses some of the buildup. Pomegranates activate an enzyme that breaks down oxidized cholesterol.
- Olive Oil. Olive oil Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties — they’re the least processed — and use them instead of butter when cooking.
- Spinach. Spinach is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom. Its rich, dark color comes from the multiple photo-chemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.
- Soy Protein. It contains high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, all the ingredients for a heart-healthy meal. Also, a diet rich in soy protein can lower triglycerides, which help prevent cardiovascular disease and keep your heart strong and healthy. In those with high cholesterol levels,the benefits of soy foods are due to their high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- How to prevent or reverse coronary heart disease (I)? (foodconsumer.org)
- Fish oils not the answer for heart health: Study (vancouversun.com)
- Analysis casts doubt on benefits of omega-3 supplements – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)