Top 7 heart-healthy foods to include in your diet
Did you know that an unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes for cardiovascular diseases? Studies show that, by adopting a healthier diet full of nutritious food, we could avoid up to 2 thirds of deaths caused by heart problems. Discover below 7 heart-healthy foods that you must include in your diet.
What are the best heart-healthy foods?
For a healthy heart, it is necessary to choose foods that help manage risk factors for cardiovascular disease (eg cholesterol level, blood sugar, blood pressure or weight). We are talking about foods such as:
The fatty fish
Fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Extensive studies on these fatty acids have shown that they can lower the level of triglycerides in the blood, increase the level of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and improve the elasticity of blood vessels. They reduce the risk of clogged arteries, a main cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.
As a rule, you should include at least 2-3 servings of fish per week in your diet – your heart will thank you.
Extra virgin olive oil
For a healthier heart, be sure to replace butter or sunflower oil with extra virgin olive oil.
This type of oil is rich in healthy unsaturated fats, but also vitamins E and K and antioxidants. Unsaturated fats are an important ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease, and they can decrease the level of LDl cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood.
Fruits and vegetables
Numerous studies have shown that a heart-healthy diet contains 2-3 servings of fruit and 4 servings of vegetables per day.
Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins – nutrients that protect the heart against cardiovascular diseases.
Vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli or avocado, also contain a high level of folic acid (vitamin B9), which helps eliminate homocysteine from the blood. Homocysteine is an aminoacid that appears to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you want to include more fruits in your diet, we recommend forest fruits – full of antioxidants, fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin A and C and low in fat.
If you want to include grains in your diet, make sure you choose whole grains instead of refined ones like white bread or pasta
Whole Grains help lower LDL cholesterol, but are also beneficial in managing blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
The whole grain category includes foods such as whole grain bread, quinoa, wheat or oat cereals and brown rice.
This food can do wonders in the fight against cardiovascular diseases. Nuts are a rich source of vegetable-based protein (considered healthier than animal -based ones), but also of unsaturated fats.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that have beneficial effects on heart health. Some studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea (600 ml per day) can help lower blood pressure by up to 65%. This soothing drink also helps reduce cholesterol levels and protect arteries from damage.
Foods rich in sterols and stanols
Sterols and stanols are compounds found in plants that have an essential role in lowering cholesterol. A diet with at least 2 g of sterols and stanols per day can lower LDL cholesterol by up to 12%, without affecting the level of HDL cholesterol.
The healthiest options are natural orange juice, soy or almond milk, whole grains or even nuts or seeds.
Be careful how much you eat!
For a healthy life, it is good to choose foods that bring positive effects on your body, but you also have to take care of how much of those foods you eat.
Harvard researchers recommend that each meal consists of approximately:
- 1/2 vegetables and fruits
- 1/4 protein
- 1/4 whole grain
Mediterranean diet – a rich source of heart-healthy foods
The easiest way to include heart-healthy foods in your daily diet is through the Mediterranean diet. This “diet” is more of a lifestyle based on foods commonly eaten in the Mediterranean region. Its great benefits on heart health are recognized by medical institutions worldwide.
The Dahna nutrition app brings you proper nutrition based on the Mediterranean diet just a click away. By configuring a cardiometabolic profile, the application will generate personalized menus according to your own needs, tasty and affordable. Start your journey to a healthy heart with Dahna today!