Heart disease fatalities are rising, and many with heart disease develop other health issues. Over 17.9 million people died in 2019 from heart disease, representing 32% of global deaths. Heart disease affects the heart’s valves, blood vessels, rhythm and muscles.
One of the most common causes of heart disease is an unhealthy lifestyle – poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and being overweight can all lead to atherosclerosis and other heart problems.
Let’s look at 20 of the best foods for improving heart health, reducing inflammation, clearing clogged arteries, and strengthening overall heart health.
Loaded with the heart-loving, anti-inflammatory Omega-3 to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol assists in removing the bad cholesterol from the blood stream, reducing the risk of heart attacks.
Another food high in Omega 3 (the building blocks for cells), polyunsaturated fat, folate, fibre, and antioxidant Vitamin E. Folate helps to break down homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage the inner walls of the arteries, leading to increased risk of stroke.
Similar to walnuts, almonds are high in fatty acids crucial for lowering bad cholesterol, and increasing good cholesterol.
These seedy little beauties are a good source of fatty acids, and the antioxidant quercetin which aids in reducing the risk of developing heart issues. The nutrients in chia seeds can prevent plaque build-up and reduce LDL cholesterol.
Packed with resveratrol; a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent or reduce oxidative stress. And high in flavonoids to reduce inflammation.
Oatmeal makes a great heart-loving breakfast due to the beta-glucan fibre, a soluble fibre that can reduce bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.
This brew lowers hypertension, and is packed with catechin and flavonoids. These antioxidants have a range of cardiovascular benefits, helps to prevent blood clots, and lowers triglycerides levels in the blood.
Soymilk contains high levels of isoflavones, shown to reduce cholesterol. Naturally low in fat, and also containing niacin or vitamin B3, aiding to boost circulation.
Dark chocolate makes a great little treat for those with heart issues. As long as it has 70% cocoa or higher, it has been linked to lowering blood pressure. Along with flavones and zinc for the relaxation of arteries, and increasing blood flow.
Raisins are full of potassium, a mineral that helps to lower hypertension, and boost the immune system.
Broccoli is full of a range of antioxidants to fight free radicals. The build-up of free radicals in the body leads to the malfunctioning of cells; thereby, leading to oxidative stress that can cause not only heart disease, but also cancer. Broccoli also contains fatty acids assisting in the regulation of blood pressure.
This vegetable is high in vitamins, and the heart-boosting antioxidant kaempferol. This antioxidant has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties for the cardiovascular system, thus improving blood vessel health.
This vegetable is not only delicious in a stir-fry, it boasts of some pretty impressive benefits for the heart. Cauliflower contains an antioxidant, free-radical destroyer – sulforaphane. Cauliflower also contains carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants, as well as Vitamin C. An all-rounder for targeting those pesky free radicals.
The fibre in whole grains is a great regulator for LDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease. It is recommended for the best results for the whole grains to be gluten-free, like rice or oat bran.
The skin on the apple isn’t just for beauty purposes, it is packed with polyphenols, shielding cholesterol from free radicals, which can destabilize the balance. Pectin in the apple skin blocks absorption of cholesterol, aiding in sweeping it out.
Oranges are another great source of pectin found within the white pith, which aids in reducing artery inflammation. Oranges also contain hesperidin – a plant chemical that improves blood flow.
Garlic contains an interesting compound known as allicin. In research, this compound aids in the prevention of cell damage, lowers blood pressure, and regulates cholesterol.
Avocado and its oils
Full of monounsaturated fats to minimize blood cholesterol and blood clots. This oil has a great ability to modify fatty acids in tissues, decreasing the hardening of the arteries.
Extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of good fats and antioxidants, leading to the unclogging of arteries.
Yams/ Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes make an ideal substitute for white potatoes. Yams have good levels of calcium, iron and Vitamin C for reducing high blood pressure. However, it is the potassium content that really stands out. Potassium is crucial for triggering your heart to squeeze blood through the body. Too much potassium can lead to an irregular heartbeat. We need around 3500–4700 mg daily, so it is pretty difficult to consume too much. Yams contain around 337mg, and bananas around 358mg.
Incorporating some or all of these foods throughout the week will keep your heart strong, accompanied with regular exercise, reduce or quit smoking, limit processed foods, and foods high in saturated fat.
Your heart will thank you for it.
What Foods Have You Tried?