Diet plays a significant role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart disease. Heart disease accounts for nearly one-third of all deaths worldwide. Certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels, and inflammation, all risk factors for heart disease.
Heart-healthy eating involves choosing certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while limiting others, such as saturated fats and added sugars.
Which foods can benefit your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease?
- Leafy green vegetables. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are well known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Whole grains. Whole grains have all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain, germ, endosperm, and bran. Common whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa.
- Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are jam-packed with essential nutrients that play a central role in heart health.
- Avocados. Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Fatty fish and fish oil. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have heart-health benefits.
- Walnuts. Walnuts are a great source of fibre and micronutrients like magnesium, copper, and manganese.
- Beans. Beans contain resistant starch, which resists digestion and is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch can exert a beneficial impact on the gut and some of its resident microbiota.
- Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help boost heart health.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a natural plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties.
- Almonds. Almonds are incredibly nutrient-dense, boasting many vitamins and minerals crucial to heart health.
- Seeds. Chia, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are all great sources of heart-healthy nutrients, including fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Garlic. Garlic has been used as a natural remedy to treat various ailments and can also help improve heart health.
- Olive oil. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants, relieving inflammation and decreasing the risk of chronic disease.
- Edamame. Edamame is rich in soy isoflavones, a flavonoid that may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
- Green tea. Green tea is brimming with polyphenols and catechins, which can act as antioxidants to prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation, and protect the health of your heart.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance, and it’s not inherently bad for your health; your body needs it to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. But too much cholesterol can pose a problem.
What are the worst foods for high cholesterol?
- Red meat. Beef, pork, and lamb are generally high in saturated fat. Meat cuts like hamburgers, ribs, pork chops, and roasts have the most fat. You don’t have to avoid meat entirely; occasionally, eat it.
- Fried foods. Foods dipped in the deep fryer, like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings, are among the worst regarding cholesterol. Frying increases the energy density or calorie count of foods.
- Processed meats. Hot dogs, sausage, and bacon use the fattiest cuts of red meat and therefore tend to be high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
- Baked goods. Cookies, cakes, and pastries are often made with large quantities of butter and shortening, making them high in cholesterol.
It is safe to enjoy the healthy cholesterol-rich foods listed above; however, limit unhealthy high-cholesterol foods such as fried foods, desserts, and processed meats. Consult an Intercare doctor to check your cholesterol level to prevent heart disease.