You probably already know that leafy greens, berries, and fish like salmon are good for you and your heart, but what about chocolate and red wine? At PurMEDICA, we’re always on the lookout for surprising new heart-healthy superfoods. Here are ten of our favorites.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in powerful omega-3 fatty acids. The heart loves omega-3s because they lower the risk of plaque build up in the arteries that can ultimately lead to cardiac arrest. Fatty acids also lower the risk of arrhythmia and reduces the level harmful triglycerides in the body. Eat salmon at least twice a week to reap the health benefits of this tasty fish.
Blueberries and other berries like strawberries, raspberries, etc., are full of heart healthy compounds like flavonoids and anthocyanins that can help dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Flavonoids are antioxidants, which help ward off harmful free radicals. One study revealed that women ages 25 – 42 who ate over three servings of blueberries per week had 32% less risk of heart attack than those who did not eat the fruit.
3. Dark Chocolate
Good news, dark chocolate lovers! Your favorite sweet treat is actually good for your heart in moderation. Dark chocolate is abundant in flavonoids called polyphenols. These nutrients are powerful heart protectors. They help reduce blood pressure, inflammation, and clotting of the arteries. Eating the dark stuff daily could reduce your risk of nonfatal heart attack and even stroke. Not all chocolate is created equal, of course. To reap the health benefits of the sweet stuff, look for chocolate that is at least 60 – 70% cocoa and as low as possible in sugar.
The flavonoid compounds in citrus fruit like oranges, grapefruit, and lemon have the power to reduce clotting of the arteries and lower your risk of ischemic stroke by 19%. Citrus is also ripe with vitamin C, another warrior nutrient for your heart. The vitamin is linked to lower risk of heart disease. Feel free to dive right into fresh citrus fruit, but watch out for added sugars in juice if you prefer to drink it.
Tomatoes are great for the body in many ways, and the heart is no exception. Tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, which is great for the heart. They’re also rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which is a carotenoid that keeps bad cholesterol at bay. It also opens blood vessels and lowers your risk of heart attack. Another great benefit of the hearty tomato is that the fruit is low in sugar and calories.
6. Almonds and Nuts
Nuts like walnuts, peanuts, macadamia, pistachios, and especially almonds are full of fiber your heart needs to work at its best. They’re also chalk full of vitamin E, which is proven to assist in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Some nuts, like walnuts, also contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a superb source of monounsaturated (good) fats. These fats help lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar. One study even found that people at high risk for heart disease who followed a diet that included four tablespoons of olive oil per day reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%.
8. Red Wine
Wine enthusiasts rejoice! Red wine in moderation is linked to lower risk of heart disease thanks to the nutrient resveratrol, a heart-healthy polyphenol. Be warned, though, that more thank two glasses of wine per day can have the opposite effect and increase your risk of heart disease. Enjoy in moderation!
9. Green Tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants known as catechins. These nutrients can reduce your risk for heart disease by 20%, according to one study. Findings show that people who drink at least four cups of green tea daily reap the most benefits and lower their risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
10. Leafy Greens
Hearty leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard are truly superfoods for the body. These greens contain high amounts of carotenoids, which give an extra helping hand to the heart. They fight off free radicals and other harmful compounds, while supplying your body with fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Kale is particularly good for you, as it also contains omega-3 fatty acids.
For more great heart health tips, feel free to explore the rest of our website or contact us at PurMEDICA.