A Trip to the Farm-acy: Heart Healthy Foods!
Eating the right foods can protect your heart in multiple ways: by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure levels, limiting inflammation of the arteries, warding off diabetes, and maintaining a healthy weight. From beets to blueberries, nature has an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables good for your heart. Every bite of these heart-healthy foods will deliver a powerful dose of nutrients to help your heart. Sometimes all you need is a trip to the good ol' farm -acy!
Almonds - Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc all help to make a handful of crunchy almonds good for your heart and your mood. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease.
Apples - Research suggests that the strong antioxidant flavanoid compounds found in apples - quercetin, epicatechin, epigallcatechin, kaempferol and other polysyllabic wonders - play a key role in preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and triggering a series of events that result in the buildup of plaque in arteries, as well as inhibiting inflammation. Apples are also rich in pectin, a form of soluble fibre known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, another antioxidant.
Avocado - Just one cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, which is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.
Bananas - One banana has 422 mg - about 12 percent of your recommended daily dose - of potassium. The potassium in bananas helps maintain normal heart function and the balance of sodium and water in the body. Potassium helps the kidneys excrete excess sodium, thereby contributing to healthy blood pressure.
Beans - These versatile legumes contain more protein than any other plant food - just one cup provides a quarter of what we need each day. Beans are high in soluble fibre, which produces changes in a short-chain fatty acids as it ferments that can inhibit cholesterol formation. Beans also contain flavanoids that inhibit the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.
Beets - This crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments - called betacyanins - that give beets their colour have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.
Bell Peppers - Contain folate, a nutrient that can reduce homocysteine, a form of amino acid that has been linked to heart disease.
Berries - Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries - whatever berry you like best - are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Blood Oranges - In addition to Vitamin C, and a host of other nutrients, blood oranges contain anthocyanins, which are basic natural compounds that give colour to fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties are good for preventing cancer, diabetes, and bacterial infections, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease.
Broccoli - Broccoli is packed with B vitamins and folic acid, which has been shown to help relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and even depression.
Carrots - Rich in carotenoids, carrots are powerful antioxidants that can combat free radicals that cause heart disease.
Garlic - Contains phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect the heart against diseases.
Mushrooms - Loaded with an antioxidant called ergothioneine, mushrooms are a potent disease-fighting machine.
Nuts - Chock-full of vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Research suggests that people who eat nuts - walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts (which actually are legumes) - two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who eat them less often.
Oatmeal - Full of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, calcium and soluble fibre. This fiber-rich food can lower levels of LDL cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Onions - A rich source of sulphur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can reduce cholesterol levels, and therefore, prevent heart disease.
Spinach - Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fibre.
Tomatoes - An excellent source of Vitamin C, plus Vitamin A, potassium and fibre, tomatoes are high in lycopene, which works with other vitamins and minerals to aid in disease prevention. Research suggests that the combination of nutrients in tomatoes may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Cooking may actually increase the health benefits of this lush fruit because although cooked tomatoes have less vitamin C, their lycopene is more available and antioxidant activity is undiminished by cooking.