The more crucial part the heart plays in the proper functioning of human body, the worse its diseases seem to be. From strokes to heart attacks, continuous failure of this vital organ does not give a second chance to the person and hence need extra special care. The best way to boost the normal functioning of the heart is to eat the right kind of food and exercising adequately. Here are some of the best superfoods for healthy heart.
Berries of all types such as blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries, etc. contain beta-carotene, anthocyanin, lutein, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, calcium and ellagic acid. Anthocyanins take care of the endothelial lining of circulatory system and hence prevent plaque buildup. Anthocyanins also regulate blood pressure. Recommended dosage of blueberries for a healthy heart is one serving (at the least) every week.
With a full pack of heart strengthening nutrients such as folate, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E, mono-unsaturated fats, poly-unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are naturally one of the inevitable food choices every person at risk of heart disease should make. Walnuts reduce inflammation of arteries and bring down the level of cholesterol. It also reduces risk of diabetes – one of the triggers of heart disease. Always prefer unsalted walnuts and replace other snacks with walnuts.
Another good source of omega-3 fatty acids – oatmeal – proves to be a heart-friendly superfood for vegetarians. Apart from omega-3 fatty acids, oatmeal is packed with essential minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. It also contains niacin as well as fiber. The primary benefit of eating oatmeal is considerable reduction in LDL levels which is considered to be the bad cholesterol. Oatmeal behaves like a sponge to soak in cholesterol and prevent it from getting mixed in the bloodstream. Always prefer the coarse variety over the instant cooked ones as they contain less sugar and more fiber.
This contains everything that your heart needs – omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, niacin, B complex vitamins and essential minerals like calcium and magnesium. These nutrients work together to lower down cholesterol levels and keep glucose levels in check. Black beans are also good alternative protein sources minus the cholesterol that other protein sources such as eggs and red meat offer. Recommended dosage is at least four servings every week.
It is now well known that Omega-3 fatty acids are your heart’s best friend. The heart needs healthy fat unlike the saturated fats contained in red meat. The primary benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is reduction of risk of arrythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat). In addition, salmon decreases triglyceride levels, decreases blood pressure and slows down formation of atherosclerotic plaque. Recommended dosage of salmon for reducing heart disease risk is two servings every week. Also, you should prefer wild salmon over farm raised ones to cut out the chances of high levels of insecticides or mercury poisoning.
This citrus fruit contains beta-cryptoxanthin, flavones, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, folate, potassium and fiber that protect the heart in a wholesome manner. However, the most important constituent is vitamin C that improves blood flow to the heart and thus prevent strokes. In addition, it reduces other triggers of heart diseases like high blood pressure and artery inflammation. Oranges also help in proper functioning of blood vessels.
Fiber, potassium, calcium and B vitamins make spinach a heart friendly superfood. When the plasma levels of homocysteine (amino acid) increase, it leads to cardiovascular diseases. Spinach contains folate that checks the rise of homocysteine in the bloodstream. It also contains carotenoids i.e. antioxidants that prevent cell damage by free radicals. Spinach is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and several minerals and vitamins that protect the heart.
The primary constituent in tomatoes proven for a healthy heart is lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that has natural antioxidant properties that decrease levels of LDL – the bad cholesterol – and strengthen the blood vessels and keep them open. Being low on sugar as well as calories, tomatoes keep the risk of diabetes at bay which again is a potential trigger of heart disease.
High amounts of fiber and low amounts of saturated fats make soy one of the prime choices of people concerned about their heart’s health. Soy reduces LDL i.e. the bad cholesterol in addition to triglycerides and hence keeps heart diseases at bay. If you don’t want to cut out on your protein intake and still want to give up red meat, then soy is the answer. Eating refined carbohydrates actually put you at risk of high blood pressure levels. But replacing them with soy can actually reduce blood pressure in such people. You can make various dishes with soy tofu or just pour some soy milk over your breakfast cereal. However, allergies to soy are to be determined beforehand.
If some term could sum up benefits of chia seeds it would be ‘nutritional powerhouse’. A handful of nutritious substances right from lutein, anthocyanin (flavonoid), fiber, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin C and ellagic acid (polyphenol) are packed in a handful of chia seeds. It reduces bad cholesterol i.e. LDL and prevents plaque buildup in the arteries. In addition, it reduces trigylcerides and decreases blood pressure – one of the potent causes of heart diseases. You can add just a spoonful of chia seeds into your salads, soups or smoothies to gain its benefits.
High levels of potassium in potato make it a superfood for heart. Potassium lowers blood pressure that triggers heart disease. Do not peel off the skin to keep intact the potassium levels. Potatoes contain less sodium and helps in improving heart function. Besides, potatoes have zero saturated fat and no cholesterol at all. Besides, potatoes are rich in fiber that increase blood lipid levels and protect the heart. In addition, vitamins C and B6 are also found in potatoes. Vitamin C do not let cholesterol damage the arteries while vitamin B6 decrease homocysteine levels.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados are one of the best heart-healthy fruits. It checks and balances cholesterol levels in the body. It also has antioxidant properties that decrease LDL levels. Besides, avocados are rich in potassium that are good for your heart. Avocados are also rich in fiber, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin E and potassium – all of which are considered to be healthy for heart.
Rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins and polyphenols, pomegranate decreases the chances of hardening of arteries. Pomegranate also boosts blood flow to heart and hence reduces the risk of stroke. Pomegranate delay oxidation of LDL which otherwise would expedite the heart diseases. It also lowers blood pressure.
Apart from uplifting your mood, dark chocolate reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases. Dark chocolate – containing at least 70% cocoa – is rich in flavonol which lowers blood pressure, reduces damage by free radicals that tend to increase the bad cholesterol levels and improves blood circulation. It also thins blood to prevent clotting and reduces inflammation. A single piece of dark chocolate works wonders on your heart.