Keeping Your Heart Healthy With Diet: 9 Foods That Can Help Protect Your Heart From Dangerous Conditions

Date April 11, 2018

Your diet influences the way your whole body works, and your heart is not an exception. A typical modern diet high in saturated fats, sugar, and salt can damage your heart and put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, eating heart-healthy foods and an overall healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Below, we list nine foods that have a protective effect on your heart to incorporate into your diet.

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1. Oats

Not only are oats weight-loss friendly and filling, but this grain can also benefit your heart health. Eating oats regularly can help reduce your LDL cholesterol (commonly called "bad" cholesterol) and keep your blood sugar levels stable, thus making your heart and vessels healthier. To get the benefits, choose less processed forms of oats, such as rolled or steel-cut oats. Also, try cooking them with milk instead of water and adding some fresh bananas or berries to the cereal.

2. Yogurt

You already know that yogurt is good for your gut (as are other fermented foods), but did you know it also benefits your heart? Yogurt contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are important for keeping blood pressure in check. Choose plain yogurt to avoid extra calories that come with flavored yogurts.

3. Red, orange, and yellow vegetables

Vegetables of red, orange, and yellow color contain plenty of beta-carotene, fiber, and other nutrients that are good for your heart. Good options include bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

4. Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens are a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, calcium, and other important minerals that help keep your heart healthy. The best options to add to your heart-healthy diet include spinach, kale, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and mustard and collard greens.

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5. Berries

Fresh berries contain plenty of antioxidants which can help ward off heart disease. They are also low in calories and rich in fiber. Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries make a perfect snack, and they can also make your yogurt or cereal tastier.

6. Walnuts and other nuts

Walnuts are one of the best nuts when it comes to eating a heart-healthy diet. They contain a significant amount of healthful unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your heart health. Other nuts to include into your diet are almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios (which are technically seeds, but that's beside the point). Just look for unsalted and unsweetened versions.

7. Avocados

Avocados are one of the best sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can help lower "bad" cholesterol and fight inflammation to keep your heart healthy. Make an avocado toast using whole-grain bread, and you'll have a filling heart-healthy snack. Alternatively, eat avocados on their own or add them to salads.

8. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are one of the most fiber-rich seeds you can think of. They are also one of the best plant sources of the much sought-after omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart healthier. To get their benefits, grind the flaxseeds before consumption, otherwise they may pass through you GI tract undigested. Add ground flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt, salads, and grains.

9. Dark chocolate

Cocoa, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, contains polyphenols and flavanols, which are powerful antioxidants that have a protective effect on your heart. To benefit from dark chocolate, eat it in moderation and choose the variety with at least 70% cocoa content.

Eat foods from this list as part of an overall heart-healthy diet, and your heart will serve you longer!

Source: CNN, Cleveland Clinic, Eat This, Not That!

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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