Many factors contribute to cardiovascular disorders, with diet and foods that are unhealthy for the heart being one of them. Healthy eating is synonymous with a healthy heart.
Food serves as fuel for your heart, and good quality fuel will keep your heart healthy and active. Keep in mind that whatever you consume, affects your cardiovascular system.
Heart diseases are the leading cause of death among people, and in the United States, one person dies every 34 seconds from the disease (CDC 2019).
There are many things you can do to promote heart health. Diet is one of them. This article explores the benefits of a diet based on “foods that keep your heart healthy”
Table of Contents
Avoid These Foods As Much As You Can
Try to avoid as many of the foods listed below as much as you can. Believe me, it can be a challenge, but the occasional indulgence is not the end of the world! After all, we are all human…..
As a rule of thumb, avoid processed products. Do not simply focus on macronutrients. Even when they are at recommended levels for fat, carbohydrates and protein, a diet can still be poor nutritionally.
Check to see whether the carbohydrate sources are highly-processed or low in fiber. Is the protein content lean? Is the fat heart-healthy? (Taylor 2022). The difference in your your answers will determine if you are eating foods that keep your heart healthy or not!
Here are 12 examples of foods to avoid (Taylor 2022). There are many more. We will discuss each in greater detail and debunk some of the myths in a future article.
- Processed deli meats – Your sandwiches can do without them because of their high sodium content
- Reduced fat salad dressings
- Fat free peanut butter
- Fat free packaged snacks
- Flavored milk alternatives
- Barbecue sauce
- Fruit flavored yoghurt
- Energy bars bought from stores
- White bread
- Diet soda
Foods That Keep Your Heart Healthy
The relatively short list of things to avoid provided above already seem to throw a dent into your current dietary habits. You then wonder about what you should be eating….
ALWAYS read the label on everything you buy, Vegetable and fruits do not have them, but practically all other foods have them.
Avoiding high sugars (carbohydrates), high sodium content, high fats – trans will boost your healthy heart eating habits.
Here are 7 foods that keep your heart healthy to incorporate into your diet for heart health.
Leafy and Green Vegetables
Green vegetables are a power bank of nitrates. Spinach, broccoli, and kale are some types of leafy green vegetables. Every day, one bowl of nitrate-rich vegetables will have a healthy effect on your cardiovascular system.
What Helps Your Heart Stay Healthy? – Nitrates
Nitrates are vasodilators. Vasodilators promote proper blood flow by widening the blood vessels and supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
While some people do not like leafy and green vegetables, if you truly want to improve the health of your heart, try to include these nutrient-rich foods in your diet.
Another benefit of leafy green vegetables is vitamin K. All green vegetables contain a good amount of vitamin K. Vitamins are important for heart structure.
Vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone plays an important role in blood coagulation. To heal cuts and wounds, the body needs blood clots to stop bleeding.
A deficiency of vitamin K can cause hemorrhage, osteoporosis, and bone disorders.
Whole grains should be eaten instead of refined grains along with plenty of vegetables and fruit. They provide huge health benefits.
There are 3 beneficial nutrients:
Whole grains are also a full package of minerals and vitamins.
Studies demonstrate that eating three servings of whole grains each day provide 30% more protection for the heart in people who do so than people who do not consume it (Heart Foundation-NZ). This is great news for whole-grain users!
Whole grains and processed grains provide opposite benefits. While whole grains improve heart health then processed ones are a cause of cardiovascular disorders.
When grains are processed, bran and germ are removed. In this way, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants associated with them, are stripped away.
Therefore, we cannot ignore whole grains while talking about foods that keep your heart healthy.
Who does not like berries? Along with their sweet and tangy flavor, berries play an important role in heart health.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and are a source of phytonutrients(plant-based chemical compounds). According to statistics, three servings of strawberries and blueberries per day can decrease heart stroke by 30%.
An imbalance of molecules and antioxidants creates oxidative stress in our bodies. It leads to cell and tissue damage. Intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants reduces oxidative stress and casts a positive impact on our bodies.
So from now on, do not just consume berries for taste, consider them foods that keep your heart healthy.
Fish is heart healthy food. Fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna are rich in omega-3. Eating fish twice a week reduces the risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids. We all know that unsaturated fatty acids are good fats. They improve blood cholesterol, ease inflammation and stabilize heart rates.
Moreover, omega-3 improves your blood pressure, reduces blood clotting, and manages heart rates.
Unlike red meats, fish is a good addition to your diet for heart health.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews not only sharpen your brain but also improve your heart health and are also good for your bones.
Nuts contain many healthy nutrients and unsaturated fatty acids. They decrease levels of unhealthy cholesterol such as trans fats or saturated fatty acids. Their intake reduces blood pressure, and the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.
Different nuts have different healthy compounds. Such as omega-3, unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, L-arginine, and plant sterols.
To maintain a healthy diet, it is recommended that you consume a small handful of nuts daily. Because they are so tasty, try not overdo the quantity due to added calories.
Beans are also known as legumes. Unlike red meat, they are an important source of protein without fats. You can enjoy beans with salad, bread, and rice or they are even great to eat alone.
Beans are rich in fiber and protein. They play an important role in a heart -healthy diet. Intake of legumes in your daily meals improves blood cholesterol which is the main cause of heart disease.
High blood pressure can cause heart attacks. To lower blood pressure, start consuming beans. They are rich in fiber and minerals and are also high in potassium and low in sodium. Therefore, beans are foods good for heart health.
Tomatoes are rich in nutrients, fiber and low in calories. Along with that, they have many other healthy compounds such as:
- Vitamins A, B, C, and E
Lycopene is a compound that gives tomatoes their red color. It is an antioxidant that keeps cells alive and reduces oxidative stress. Moreover, it reduces clotting which can cause heart diseases.
Potassium helps remove excessive sodium out of our body to normalize blood pressure, and also reduces pressure on blood vessels.
Tomatoes are among the foods that keep your heart healthy. So, make this common vegetable an important part of your diet.
Conclusion – Foods that Keep Your Heart Healthy
Eating foods that keep your heart healthy ensure that this important organ of the body functions properly.
Many other body functions are associated with the heart, so adopting a healthy diet is not only good for heart health, but an all round diet.
As you grow older regular monitoring of blood pressure helps catch early signs of heart or other problems that can be more easily managed.
- Heart Health Facts – Why They Are Important
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- Why Proper Hydration is Important Especially in Hot Weather
- Foods That Help Burn Belly Fat – How to Use This Information
- Why Is Water Important to Your Health? – Facts To Know
 CDC. (2019). Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm#:~:text=Heart%20disease%20is%20the%20leading
 Why are whole grains good for you? (n.d.). Retrieved from Heart Foundation NZ website: https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/healthy-eating/nutrition-facts/are-whole-grains-good-for-you
 15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods. (2018, March 5). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10
 5 Heart-Healthy Beans and the Best Ways to Eat Them. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from EverydayHealth.com website: https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/heart-healthy-beans-and-the-best-ways-to-eat-them/
 How eating fish helps your heart. (n.d.). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614#:~:text=For%20many%20years%2C%20the%20American
 How do nuts help your heart health? (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635#:~:text=Decrease%20the%20risk%20of%20blood
 Taylor MG (2022)How to Start Counting Macros for Weight Loss, According to Dietitians https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/a19804935/macros-diet/