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Add These Foods Into Your Heart-Healthy Diet

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 2/3/15 8:30 PM

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Heart disease is the number-one cause of death in America, but fortunately modern research has proven that adopting healthy eating habits can greatly reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A heart-healthy diet offers several excellent benefits including better blood sugar levels, more stable blood pressure and a lower level of "bad" LDL cholesterol in your system. While no single food should be considered a cure-all for heart disease, there are several foods that have been shown to protect your heart and blood vessels from the cellular damage that can lead to cardiovascular problems. Below are 11 heart-healthy foods that you can add to your diet to help keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape.

  1. Fish - Salmon, mackerel and tuna are all great sources of protein, and they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play a vital role in lowering the amount of triglycerides (fat) in your blood. According to the American Heart Association, you should try to eat at least two servings a week of fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids. If you want the benefits of seafood but don't like the smell, you can supplement with fish oil capsules from your local health food store. 
  2. Oatmeal - This popular breakfast food is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and it's an excellent source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Oatmeal also contains a generous helping of soluble fiber, which keeps your digestive system healthy as well. Try a bowl of hot oatmeal topped with fresh berries, or bake some oatmeal-and-raisin cookies occasionally for a treat.
  3. Ground Flaxseed - This "wonder grain" has a history that extends back to the days of the Babylonian Empire in 3,000 B.C. It was highly sought after in ancient times for its powerful health-promoting properties, many of which are now being confirmed by modern science. Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and several studies indicate that it's highly effective in fighting heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
  4. Almonds - Yet another great source of omega-3 fatty acids, almonds also provide the body with heart-friendly mono- and polyunsaturated fats. According to a study conducted at Tufts University, almonds have also been found to contain vital flavonoids that protect your arterial walls from damage.
  5. Blueberries - Considered by many nutritional experts to be a bona-fide "super-food," blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, the antioxidant compound that gives them their rich blue color. Anthocyanins play an important role in fighting free radical damage, and they offer a strong barrier of protection for your heart and arteries.
  6. Carrots - Most of us have heard that carrots are good for the eyes (which is true), but they also contain an important substance known as alpha-carotene, which is part of the heart-favorable carotenoid family. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, carotenoids prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries, which is one of the main culprits of cardiovascular disease.
  7. Spinach - Popeye may have been on to something after all. Spinach is an excellent source of lutein, which is another member of the carotenoid family. Spinach also contains several B-complex vitamins, which are known to help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
  8. Red Wine - Drink up! Red wine is rich in reservatrol and catechins, both of which are flavonoids that help protect your heart and blood vessels. In addition, several studies have shown that red wine can improve the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol in your system, which promotes heart health.
  9. Tomatoes - Tomatoes are packed full of powerful carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein and alpha-carotene. Not only do tomatoes offer these heart-healthy antioxidants, but they are also rich in potassium, which plays a vital role in proper heart and nerve function.
  10. Dark Chocolate - Who says you can't indulge in a little chocolate for the sake of heart health? Recent studies have revealed that the flavonoids found in cocoa (phenol and reservatrol) can lower your blood pressure. Make sure, however, that you select chocolate that contains a minimum of 70% cocoa content. 
  11. Oranges - The antioxidant power of oranges is legendary due to their high Vitamin C content, as well as the many different carotenoids and flavonoids they contain. These heart-fortifying substances provide an excellent barrier of protection for your arteries, and they also help to reduce inflammation, another key contributor to cardiovascular disease.

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Topics: Healthy Living

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