There are a number of foods that are considered heart healthy foods. A healthy heart is what many would want, no matter what age they are at. Heart diseases causes premature death for many. Cardiovascular fitness can be achieved by eating right and taking care of our bodies through exercise and not smoking. For most people this means a lifestyle modification that could drastically change the way they eat. The benefit of such a diet is that your chances of experiencing a heart attack is greatly reduced.
A Heart Healthy Diet
A heart healthy diet would be one that seeks to reduce and limit the amount of saturated fat in your daily diet. We have heard it often, a diet high in saturated fats raise your cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). As a matter of fact, a 1% decrease in dietary saturated fatty acids means a 2% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 2% decrease in heart disease risk.
Also, such a diet encourages you to reduce your intake of sodium. People who are overweight tend to suffer from high blood pressure. As they lose weight their blood pressure will also fall. Hypertension can cause damage to the kidney, the heart and the brain. Heart problems are exacerbated with hypertension. Other factors that trigger heart disease are high triglyceride levels, high homocysteine levels and diabetes.
Heart Healthy Foods
In order to help you improve the health of your heart here is our list of the top ten foods for cardiovascular fitness.
10 Heart Healthy Foods
Spinach is at the top of our heart-healthy food list. Besides being a rich source of iron, calcium and vitamin K, it is an excellent antioxidant that discourages oxidation of existing blood cholesterol. It therefore protects the heart and fight against heart disease. But, that is not all, spinach is also rich in folate, a B vitamin, that reduces homocysteine; it also has anti-inflammatory properties that protects the heart; and components that help control blood pressure. This makes spinach our number one heart-healthy food.
Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that is present in the fish oil. Therefore, fish oil has the potential to improve health and the heart. The American Heart Association and other authorities recommend that two fatty fish servings per week for a heart healthy diet. This could provide the at 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Fish is the best source for EPA and DHA in the diet, but they may also contain traces of mercury, PCBs and pollutants. The best types of fish species are herring, sardines, and salmon.
3. Red wine
This heart-healthy treat should be no surprise to you. Studies show that red wine, just about two glasses a day for men and one for women, in the diet can lower your risk of heart disease by 30 to 40%. Red wine offers antioxidant pytochemical that help lower this risk.
4. Sunflower seed
The phytosterols in sunflower seeds give it the ability to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Sunflower seeds also contains selenium and vitamin E. A ¼ cup of serving of sunflower seed kernels will provide more than 40% of the recommendation for vitamin E and 30% of the recommendation for selenium. They are also rich in protein and fibre. They therefore helps lower homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease.
Suggested Recipe: Cereal Mix
Yes, broccoli made the list with just two florets, raw or lightly cooked. Broccoli contains antioxidants, including vitamin C, folic acid, and B vitamin. However, it is the B vitamin found in broccoli that reduces the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
Oats is a concentrated source fiber and nutrients. therefore oats is perfect to help prevent heart disease. Consuming oats have the benefits of lowering cholesterol levels by 8 to 23% simply by eating one bowl of oatmeal. This is significant because a 1% drop in serum cholesterol could mean a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease and the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
7. Baked beans
Baked beans contains protein, fiber, iron, and calcium. It is rated low on the glycaemic index. It is a good source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that also helps prevent heart disease.
Suggested Recipe: Moussaka
8. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are good source of monounsaturated fat as well and another good heart-healthy food. It also has plenty of fiber, 2 g of fiber per ounce. Fiber helps to control cholesterol and sugar absorption, which also helps keep the digestive system in top shape.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Actually, apple are packed with antioxidants, especially vitamin C. It contains pectin, soluble fibres that helps lower blood cholesterol level and helps keep the digestive system healthy. This low glycaemic food is an excellent food for weight control and heart protection.
Another heart healthy food is tea, which is commonly known for its diuretic effect. Tea, whether black, green, or red, is a rich source of antioxidants, particularly the catechins which protects the artery wall and prevent heart disease. In population where tea is drunk often, some studies show at tea drinkers suffer less from heart disease with just one cup a day.
So that was our list. Now you know about the top 10 heart healthy foods to ensure cardiovascular fitness.
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