Improve your diet and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health risks with these foods that are good for the heart.
We all know that we should be eating healthier, swapping out those processed foods for whole grains, avoiding alcohol, and for others, quitting smoking or other bad health habits. But adapting to change can be difficult.
But it’s not impossible.
And unlike many things, we are in control of our diet and the foods we eat. So, in this blog post, we will highlight eight foods that are good for the heart.
What foods are good for the heart?
Improving heart health and lowering blood pressure reduces your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
The following foods are known to be good for the heart:
- Whole grains
- Fatty fish and fish oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy greens and fresh vegetables
- Extra virgin olive oil
Whole grains include brown rice, porridge, buckwheat, barley, and brown bread and pasta. And guess what, who said it can’t be sweet? Popcorn also makes the list.
Fatty fish and fish oils
Fatty fish includes tuna, trout, salmon, and mackerel – foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential vitamins associated with good heart health.
Nuts and seeds
Pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamias, and other nuts and seeds are your friend. These are natural sources of protein, healthy fats, and are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Leafy greens and fresh vegetables
Think: spinach, kale, cabbage, and lettuce. However, you should also consume plenty of fresh vegetables, including broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and carrots.
Remember: the more colorful your meals, the better. Typically, this means you’re consuming more vitamins and minerals. So, get a bit of color on your plate!
That’s right; you now have an excuse for that avocado on toast – just make sure it’s whole grain bread though…
Avocado is high in natural fats, helping to lower blood pressure and protecting against heart disease.
We’re not taking Heinz here – we’re on about pinto beans, chickpeas, and others – the kind that goes really well with a rice or pasta dish. Beans are packed full of protein and antioxidants and are known to improve heart health.
Ah, beetroot – you either love it, or you hate it. Well, if you fall in the latter camp, then add it to your dish as often as you can; beetroot is packed full of vitamin A, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients. It’s also super low in calories and great for the heart.
Extra virgin olive oil
Finally, we have extra virgin olive oil. Unlike other oil choices for cooking and salads, extra virgin is a natural anti-inflammatory, reducing blood pressure, improving heart health, and potentially even reducing your risk of diabetes.
What foods should you avoid?
Okay, now that you know what foods you should be eating, what about the foods you should avoid?
For starters, it’s a good idea to lower your salt and saturated fat intake. Excessive salt and fat is often found in pizza, store-bought snacks, sodas, and energy drinks. According to the British Heart Foundation, consuming too much salt increases your blood pressure, which also increases your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
You should also limit your intake of processed foods. Often, these are the same groups of foods that contain excessive salt and saturated fats, so there shouldn’t be too much of a change. Despite this, processed foods include frozen meals, tinned goods, pastries, and other savory snacks.
Instead of eating ready meals or sauces out of jars, you should do your best to cook from scratch. There are plenty of easy-to-follow recipes out there! And while it may seem time-consuming and difficult at first, you now know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
How can I make my heart stronger?
Alongside consuming a diet full of foods that are good for the heart, adopting a regular exercise routine will strengthen your heart.
This will further improve heart health and function, reducing the risk of various diseases and conditions and keeping you healthy and happy.
Be sure to make changes over a longer period of time for the best results – rapid change is typically not the best method, as many people find it difficult to stick to.