The heart is one of the most vital organs of the body. It acts as a pump continuously circulating blood which supplies oxygen and nutrients to our body. This involuntary function of the heart makes it the most worked muscle of the body. In an average lifespan the human heart beats a whopping 2.5 billion times! Needless to say, the heart deserves special care and attention. However, in the recent past, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy food habits and stress have lead to a rapid increase in the number of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases According to the World Heath Organization, heart diseases are the leading cause of deaths globally. In 2010, 600,000 people died of heart diseases in the U.S. alone. A healthy diet and regular physical exercise can go a long way in bringing these numbers down. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folates, soluble fiber and anti-oxidants help in maintaining a healthy heart and it is essential to include such foods in our regular diet. So, let’s have a look at the top 10 heart healthy foods.
Heart Healthy Foods – Salmon
Salmon can be considered as one of the healthiest food for heart. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and can also increase the level of good HDL cholesterol in the body. Triglyceride can be also reduced by consuming it. Antioxidants help in making the arteries flexible and can reduce their hardening. Selenium is another antioxidant found in salmon fish which can restrict the onset of heart strokes and heart attacks. It is a highly recommended food to achieve a healthy cardiovascular system.
Foods for Healthy Heart – Oats
Oats are rich in soluble fibre which makes them really beneficial for combating cholesterol. Soluble fibre helps in accumulating the bad LDL cholesterol and restricts them from getting absorbed in the body. Oats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and folates, which are heart friendly compounds. They help in lowering the level of triglyceride along with LDL cholesterol. Formation of plaque in the blood arteries can be prohibited and heart strokes can be prevented by oat consumption. Antioxidants like tocotrienol and avenanthramides are present in oats. These also aid in lowering the bad cholesterol and fight free radical damages without altering the level of HDL cholesterol. Hardening of walls can be prevented as they restrict the accumulation of monocytes in the artery walls, thus preventing stenosis.
Food for Heart – Walnut
Walnut is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids. It contains oleic acids and is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids like linolenic acids and arachidonic acids which help in decreasing the cholesterol level and increases the good cholesterol (HDL). Walnut is very high in anti-oxidants and helps in lowering the plague deposits in the arteries. It prevents various coronary heart diseases as well as lowers the risk of heart strokes. It also contains amino acid ‘L-arginine’ which soothes and relaxes the blood vessels thereby increasing their flexibility. It restricts the accumulation of fats in the walls. It also inhibits endothelial dysfunction.
Sweet Potato aids Heart Health
Sweet potato is rich in antioxidants which can help in improving heart health. It contains beta-carotene which is associated with lowering of bad LDL cholesterol in the body. Vitamin-B6 is present in significant amount in this healthy root vegetable. Vitamin-B6 helps in disintegrating a compound homocysteine, which is known to harden the blood arteries and blood vessels. It thus helps in increasing the flexibility of arteries and results in easy flow of blood throughout the body. Sweet potato also contains potassium which is a heart friendly mineral. It aids in maintaining proper rhythm of the heart. Sweet Potato is also known to counter balance the effect of sodium, thus reducing chances of high blood pressure.
Spinach for a Healthy Heart
Spinach contains negligible amount of fat and no cholesterol. Moreover, spinach is rich in heart friendly nutrients like potassium, magnesium, folate and antioxidants. Studies have shown that these nutrients prevent cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure and decreases risk of stroke.
Flax Seeds for Heart
Flax seeds are rich in fibre and contain high amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are also rich in antioxidants like lignans, which help in reducing LDL cholesterol and other coronary heart diseases.
Heart Healthy Foods – Soybean
Soybean is helpful in reducing bad cholesterol i.e. LDL cholesterol in the body. Soy protein has been found to have cholesterol lowering effect. It has low amount of trans and saturated fat which makes it really beneficial for heart patients. It contains lecithin which acts as a natural fat emulsifier. Accumulation of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol is reduced in the blood arteries. Moreover, it increases HDL cholesterol in the body. Soybean is also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids like linolenic acid that helps in proper functioning of smooth muscles and regulates blood pressure.
Olive Oil for Healthy Heart
Monounsaturated fatty acids present in olive oil help in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body thus reducing blockage of arteries and plague formation. They also help in the reduction of blood clotting. Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants like phenols and Vitamin-E which help in keeping the heart strong and efficient.
Healthy Heart Foods – Tomato
Tomatoes are very beneficial for heart. They are rich in niacin, folates and Vitamin-B6 which are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases. They are rich in antioxidants which help in fighting oxidative stresses. Reduction of oxidative stress can help lower the oxidation process of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Consumption of tomatoes also aid in improving the level of good HDL cholesterol. They help in increasing the level of plasma lycopene. Inflammation can also be reduced by eating tomatoes as they help in lowering serum C–reactive protein which is one of the prime factors of inflammation. This can help in lowering various heart related diseases and heart strokes.
Red Wine for Heart
Consumption of red wine can really help lower the risk of various heart diseases. It helps in thinning the blood in the arteries thereby making the flow more efficient and easy. Red wine is rich in polyphenols which directly aids in the protection of heart muscles. Polyphenols are beneficial in protecting the lining of the blood vessels. It also contains resveratrol that helps in the protection of blood vessels and lowers bad cholesterol. Red wine has been found to prevent blood clots.