Yogurt: High levels of dairy from yogurt may improve the health of your mouth, specifically your gums. Gum disease has been known to increase one’s risk for heart disease. Healthier gums, healthier heart.
Salmon and Fatty Fish: The impressive amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish may lower the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) while also reducing triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association suggests eating these fish at least twice a week.
Whole Grains: Whole grains contain the entire grain including the bran, germ and endosperm, whereas refined grains are milled down removing the bran and germ. During this process, much of the iron, dietary fiber and B-vitamins are lost. Along with many other important nutrients, whole grains contain high levels of fiber known to help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Blueberries, Strawberries & Other Berries: These berries contain antioxidants that are known to lower blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Along with many other diverse benefits, it’s no wonder that blueberries and other berries are top of the list in the superfoods category.
Beans: Beans, much like other foods high in fiber, help reduce cholesterol by binding the cholesterol so it is not absorbed in the stomach. Beans contain heart protective chemicals, similar to those found in wine, berries and chocolate, helping reduce blood clots and lower the risk for heart attack and strokes.
Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios and many others are packed with health benefits which may help lower the risk of heart problems. While they may be high in fat, many of these nuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and most studies show that people who consume nuts daily are leaner than those who do not.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Similar to nuts, in the sense of providing monounsaturated fats, extra-virgin olive oil, and olives in general, are considered a “good” fat. Those who follow the Mediterranean diet, which includes nuts and at least four tablespoons of olive oil a day along with grains, fruits and vegetables, reduce their risk of heart attacks, strokes and dying by 30 percent.
Tomatoes: Low in calories and sugar, tomatoes are great for any healthy diet; But, it’s the high levels of potassium and antioxidant lycopene that are especially protective of the heart. Lycopene helps get rid of “bad” cholesterol, keep blood vessels flowing and lower the risk of heart attack.
Red Wine: The one we all like to hear. Red wine, along with small amounts of other alcohols, can help lower the risk of heart disease. But, don’t get too excited, if consumed in high quantities, alcohol can actually increase the risk. Moderate drinkers may be providing better heart protection than those who abstain altogether with benefits known to raise “good” HDL cholesterol, decrease inflammation, increase estrogen and cause thinning of the blood which helps prevent blood clots.
Sources: health.com, eatingwell.com and webmd.com/food-recipes/
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