Here's a list of foods to maintain heart health

Published on Feb 04, 2022 03:41 PM IST

A healthy and nutritional diet is always good for your body but some particular foods are always good for your heart.

Some foods are especially a boon for your cardiovascular health, reported Fox News. Here are a few options that you can go for your cardiovascular health.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Some foods are especially a boon for your cardiovascular health, reported Fox News. Here are a few options that you can go for your cardiovascular health.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
ANI | | Posted by Parmita Uniyal

A healthy and nutritional diet is always good for your body but some particular foods are always good for your heart.

Some foods are especially a boon for your cardiovascular health, reported Fox News. Here are a few options that you can go for your cardiovascular health:

1. Dark Leafy Greens

When it comes to dark leafy greens, you can load up on kale, spinach, collard greens and many other options as well. This has been recommended by Isa Kujawski, MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition LLC, who after serving over 10 years active duty in the Navy and losing her veteran brother to suicide, dedicated her career to helping people use food as medicine.

ALSO READ: World Heart Day 2021: Balanced lifestyle reduces heart disease risk in young adults

"Dark leafy greens are a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, micronutrients and bioactive plant compounds known as phytochemicals," said Kujawski, citing a 2018 scientific review paper published in the 'Nutrients Journal'.

"These nutrients presumably protect against cardiovascular disease by various mechanisms, including altering gene expression, regulating blood pressure, and lowering inflammation in the body," she said.

"Myriad studies have demonstrated the association between intake of dark leafy greens and lower risk of cardiovascular disease," she added.

2. Olive Oil

Erin Kenney, MS, RD, LDN, HCP, CPT, registered dietitian and CEO of Nutrition Rewired always talks about adding olive oil to your diet to keep you healthy and happy.

"Olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk," she said.

"Olive oil is rich in healthful antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats," she continued, adding that to get the most benefits from olive oil, avoid heating the oil and instead use it in a salad or add it to a homemade hummus.

3. Avocados

Avocados are just another excuse to eat more guacamole as well as having a healthy heart. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, said Amy Adams, RDN, LDN.

"Monounsaturated fats increase our LDL ('bad' cholesterol) clearance rate, meaning our body gets rid of them faster. Higher LDL levels can be detrimental because LDL brings cholesterol to the heart," she explained.

"One study done by the Journal of the American Heart Association found that overweight/obese individuals who consumed more avocados had the ability to significantly lower their LDL cholesterol when compared to overweight/obese individuals who ate a low-fat or moderate-fat diet," she added.

Along with Adams, Kenney said that adding an avocado to your daily diet may help lower bad cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk for heart disease, according to health researchers at Penn State.

"Avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fats in addition to potassium and magnesium, both of which help to maintain a healthy blood pressure," she said.

4. Berries

"Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are high in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all of which work to lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body," said Kujawski, pointing to a 2010 study in Nutrition Reviews.

"These processes improve blood pressure, vascular function, and fight free radical formation. Consequently, clinical studies have shown that berries contribute to lower cardiovascular disease risk," Kujawski added.

Kristi Ruth, RD, LDN, Carrotsandcookies.com, has stressed the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables in general to improve heart health.

"This will increase your intake of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more," she said.

"Still, blueberries have been singled out as being a standout food when it comes to improving heart health," she continued, noting they are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid, a group of phytonutrients or plant chemicals that are incredible for heart health.

5. Beans

"Beans are a heart healthy food which consist of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They improve the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and promoting digestive wellness," said Kujawski, highlighting research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.

"Beans are rich in soluble fiber, which acts as food to beneficial gut bacteria to promote a healthy gut flora, which is an important factor in overall heart health." Kujawski added.

Adams who stressed on eating beans as well, added, "Beans contain plant sterols/stanols. Plant sterols/stanols work as active compounds in our body that are very similar in structure to cholesterol."

"Consequently, plant sterols/stanols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the small intestine. Overall, this causes less cholesterol to build up in our bloodstream. One study showed that eating 2-4 grams of plant sterols/stanols per day can reduce cholesterol by 10 per cent," she explained.

6. Salmon

"Salmon contains omega-3 fats which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease," said Kenney.

"These essential fats help by reducing inflammation in the body. If you don't like salmon, you may get the same benefits from a supplement based on a meta analysis that found fish oil omega-3 supplements lowered risk for heart attack and death from coronary heart disease," Kenney added.

Kenney recommended eating two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish (like herring, anchovies or mackerel) per week.

7. Whole Grains

Whole grains are much more than barley, oatmeal, brown rice, millet, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta.

"While refined carbohydrates get a bad reputation for their negative impact on health and increased risk of heart disease, whole grains have the opposite impact," said Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, adviser for Exercisewithstyle.com.

"These grains, which are incredibly nutritious as they contain all parts of the grain, are heart protective. Many studies have demonstrated a relationship between whole grain consumption and heart health," she added.

8. Grapes

"Grape skins contain resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants, which have been shown to benefit the human body. More specifically, resveratrol is part of the stilbenoid family. Stilbenoids are a natural compound produced by certain plants in response to injury. The purpose of stilbenoids is to protect the plant," said Adams.

"Similarly, resveratrol has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system," Adams added.

"Several studies have determined that heart disease can be linked to oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial damage. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, stimulate endothelial production of nitric oxide, and inhibit vascular inflammation," she said.

9. Walnuts

"Out of all nuts, walnuts are special because they have the highest per cent of omega 6, omega 3, and polyunsaturated fats which are cardioprotective," offered Adams.

"One study done by The New England Journal of Medicine evaluated whether walnuts consumption affected lipid levels and blood pressure. During the study, 18 healthy men in two different diets, with one group having 20 per cent of their calories coming from walnuts. Each diet was followed for a total of four weeks. In conclusion, participants consuming more walnuts reduced total levels of cholesterol by 12.4 per cent, reduced LDL (or 'bad' cholesterol) by 16.3 per cent." She added.

Walnuts are also known to support cognition and brain health.

10. Flaxseed

Flaxsed is "one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fat(ALA), which is excellent for heart health," said Ruth, citing research in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

She also commented that flaxseed is high in fiber and lignans (a phytochemical), and that both of those things are thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Thanks to the fiber content, flaxseed helps in digestion as well. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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