Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. In fact, heart disease dwarfs the next leading cause of death—cancer—by nearly 15%. What makes this especially tragic is the fact that heart disease is largely preventable. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a healthy diet combined with physical activity, not smoking, and managing your stress can greatly reduce your chances of getting heart disease. Here are some heart-healthy foods to begin incorporating into your regular diet.
As part of a healthy diet, the AHA recommends eating fish at least two times per week. Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, and striped bass, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation, decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and minimize blood clots. Keep in mind that a serving of fish is 4 ounces. It is not recommended to eat more than 12 ounces of fish per week. In addition to fish, there are other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These include flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
All fresh fruits pack a powerful nutritive punch. However, blackberries and blueberries are particularly good for your heart. Berries are high in polyphenols, flavonoids, micronutrients, and fiber—all of which are associated with increased heart health. Berries are also low in calories. Berries are at their peak nutrition when they are the brightest in color. Ripe, fresh berries are delicious in cereals, yogurt, salads, and smoothies.
Leafy greens are the grand-ultimate power foods when it comes to just about everything. These powerhouse vegetables are no different when it comes to your heart health. Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods around, packing a powerful punch with very few calories. Leafy green vegetables are rich in potassium, fiber, folate, and antioxidants—all of which protect your heart in different ways. Antioxidants fight against oxidative stress. Folate protects your arteries. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol. Lastly, potassium improves your blood pressure.
As the old adage says, you are what you eat. You really can eat your way to health and vitality with a diet rich in vegetables such as leafy greens, fruits such as berries, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and seeds. Thankfully, it has never been easier to get your hands on a wide variety of delicious foods that will nourish and protect your heart.
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