With heart disease on the rise and a growing reliance upon inflammatory, ultra-processed foods, many of us are starting to put our diets under the microscope – if you don’t like what you’ve found, we’re here to help. Here are 4 nutritious, readily-available foods proven to protect your heart against damage and disease.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death around of the globe – and we’re not exempt here in Australia with a whopping 27% of deaths attributed to this dangerous disease. Luckily, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce our risk for developing the condition – starting with the foods we put on our plates. Here are our top 4 foods for a healthy heart.
Leafy green veggies are densely-packed with nutrition, from spinach and kale to turnip and beet greens, you can’t go wrong. Bok choy and broccoli are other excellent choices for their vitamin and mineral content – and it’s the vitamin K content in particular that makes these leafy greens so healthful. Vitamin K is known to promote healthy arteries and support our blood clotting function. The nitrates in leafy greens are another heart-health booster as research shows they lower high blood pressure, along with combatting stiffness in the arteries – which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – and improving our blood vessel health. A study found that those who regularly consumed leafy greens had a far lower risk for coronary heart disease than those who skipped out on their greens, while other research shows an impressive 16% lower occurrence of heart disease in those who increased their leafy green veggie consumption.
Berries have been found time and time again to improve our overall health – from our gut to our brain. So, it’s no surprise that these antioxidant-packed fruits are good for our hearts too. One particular group of antioxidants, known as anthocyanins, are powerful combatants of oxidative stress; a massive contributor to heart disease. Research shows that just a month of eating strawberries reduced insulin resistance and bad cholesterol levels in obese participants. A study on blueberries found that they strengthened our blood vessel cells, thereby helping manage blood pressure and other factors for heart disease. Whether it’s strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or lingonberries, you’re set to experience a host of benefits when you consume them regularly. Add them to your morning oatmeal or enjoy a summer smoothie!
This rich fruit – yep, it’s a fruit, not a veggie! – is loaded with healthy fats and vitamins and minerals. The monounsaturated fats you’ll find in avocados have been found to lower LDL cholesterol – this is the bad kind of cholesterol that increases our risk for heart disease – protect our heart function. The potassium in avocados are another reason they’re known heart-health boosters, as this nutrient is known to reduce our risk for stroke and lower high blood pressure, a known factor contributing to heart disease. Research shows that just 4.7 grams of potassium each day lowers your risk for a stroke by 15%, so it’s worth prioritising potassium-rich foods like avocados, bananas, beans and broccoli for heart health.
This popular starter dish is an unexpected heart-health powerhouse. Edamame is an immature soybean, but its benefits come from its isoflavones – these are known to lower bad cholesterol levels and lower our risk for heart disease. High LDL cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke as the fatty deposits they leave in our blood vessels constrict blood flow, in some cases even breaking off and causing a blood clot. The consequence can range from a heart attack to a stroke – so it’s worth living a lifestyle that lowers LDL cholesterol in order to slash your risk for some of the biggest killers around the globe. Research shows that just 30 grams of soy protein each day significantly reduced the risk for heart disease – and it’s not just about the isoflavones, you also stand to benefit from the fibre and antioxidant content of these heart-healthy beans.
A few other heart-healthy foods include:
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Seeds like chia, flax and hemp
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