While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it’s still the No. 1 killer of Americans. The good news is that research has discovered a lot about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heart attacks.
It’s no secret that healthy eating is a major part of a healthy lifestyle.
Online Health magazine offers a list of foods that will help to keep your heart healthy, along with the nutrients or functions the foods have in our bodies.
Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel are the superstars of heart-healthy foods. That’s because they contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, shown in studies to lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and decrease triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish and preferably fatty fish at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids also are available as dietary supplements.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. “It acts as a sponge in the digestive tract and soaks up the cholesterol so it is eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream,” according to Lauren Graf, a registered dietician and co-director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Graf recommends avoiding instant oatmeal, which often contains sugar, and instead eating old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats. Other whole grains are good for the heart as long as they still contain the entire grain.
Blueberries, strawberries and other berries all provide heart benefits. According to a 2013 study, women aged 25 through 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. The authors of the study attributed the benefit to compounds known as anthocyanins, flavonoids (which are antioxidants) that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Anthocyanins give plants their red and blue colors.
Several studies have shown that dark chocolate may benefit your heart, including one in 2012 that found that daily chocolate consumption could reduce nonfatal heart attacks and stroke in people at high risk for these problems. The findings applied only to dark chocolate, meaning chocolate made up of at least 60-70 percent cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting and inflammation. Milk chocolate and most candy bars don’t make the grade when it comes to protecting your heart.
Women who consume high amounts of the flavonoids found in oranges and grapefruits have a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke (caused by a clot) than women who don’t get as much of these compounds, a 2012 study found. Citrus fruits also are high in vitamin C, which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Beware of citrus juices that contain added sugar.
Potatoes can be good for your heart, as long as they’re not deep fried. They’re rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. And they’re high in fiber, which can lower the risk for heart disease.
Tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. They also are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help get rid of “bad” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and lower heart attack risk, according to the Health magazine article. Tomatoes are low in calories and sugar and can be part of a healthy diet.
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts all contain fiber, which is good for your heart. They also contain vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol. And some, like walnuts, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Look for varieties that don’t have a lot of added salt.
Because they come from plants, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas are an excellent source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fat. One study found that people who ate legumes at least four times a week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once a week. Legumes also may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. Lowering blood sugar levels is key in helping people avoid diabetes complications, one of which is heart disease. Some of the other foods that make the list for heart- health benefits include, green tea, coffee, extra virgin olive oil, green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli, flax seeds and avocado.
March ALTRUM NEWS
Americans Do Not Get the Nutrients They Need From Food Alone
Research shows that Americans do not get the nutrients they need from food alone. This issue of ALTRUM News brings you information from a government study that details some of the most common nutrient deficiencies.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Please check with your physician when using prescription medications along with food supplements.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Please check with your physician when using prescription medication in combination with food supplements.
ALTRUM News brings you the most recent information on ALTRUM nutritional supplements and how nutrition helps maintain youthful vigor, health and mobility — plus much more.