Foods for healthy heart

The Punch - - FOODIE -

Heart dis­ease ac­counts for nearly one-third of all deaths world­wide .Diet plays a ma­jor role in heart health and can im­pact your risk of heart dis­ease. In fact, cer­tain foods can in­flu­ence blood pres­sure, triglyc­erides, choles­terol lev­els and in­flam­ma­tion, all of which are risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease.

Here are some foods that you should be eat­ing to max­imise your heart health:

Leafy green veg­eta­bles like spinach, kale and col­lard greens are well-known for their wealth of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants.

In par­tic­u­lar, they’re a great source of vi­ta­min K, which helps pro­tect your ar­ter­ies and pro­mote proper blood clot­ting.

They’re also high in di­etary ni­trates, which have been shown to re­duce blood pres­sure, de­crease ar­te­rial stiff­ness and im­prove the func­tion of cells lin­ing the blood ves­sels.

Some stud­ies have also found a link be­tween in­creas­ing your in­take of leafy green veg­eta­bles and a lower risk of heart dis­ease.

Whole grains in­clude all three nutri­ent-rich parts of the grain: germ, en­dosperm and bran.

Com­mon types of whole grains in­clude whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, bar­ley, buck­wheat and quinoa.

Com­pared to re­fined grains, whole grains are higher in fi­bre, which may help re­duce “bad” LDL choles­terol and de­crease the risk of heart dis­ease.

Mul­ti­ple stud­ies have found that in­clud­ing more whole grains in your diet can ben­e­fit your heart health.

When pur­chas­ing whole grains, make sure to read the in­gre­di­ents la­bel care­fully. Phrases like “whole grain” or “whole wheat” in­di­cate a whole-grain prod­uct, while words like “wheat flour” or “multi­grain” may not.

Straw­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, black­ber­ries and rasp­ber­ries are jam­packed with im­por­tant nu­tri­ents that play a cen­tral role in heart health.

Berries are also rich in an­tiox­i­dants like an­tho­cyanins, which pro­tect against the ox­ida­tive stress and in­flam­ma­tion that con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of heart dis­ease. Stud­ies show that eat­ing lots of berries can re­duce sev­eral risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease.

For ex­am­ple, one study of 27 adults with meta­bolic syn­drome showed that drink­ing a bev­er­age made of freeze-dried straw­ber­ries for eight weeks de­creased “bad” LDL choles­terol by 11 per cent.

Meta­bolic syn­drome is a clus­ter of con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with a higher risk of heart dis­ease. An­other study found that eat­ing blue­ber­ries daily im­proved the func­tion of cells that line the blood ves­sels, which help con­trol blood pres­sure and blood clot­ting.

Av­o­ca­dos are an ex­cel­lent source of heart-healthy mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats, which have been linked to re­duced lev­els of choles­terol and a lower risk of heart dis­ease.

One study looked at the ef­fects of three choles­terol-low­er­ing di­ets in 45 over­weight and obese peo­ple, with one of the test groups con­sum­ing one av­o­cado per day. The av­o­cado group ex­pe­ri­enced re­duc­tions in “bad” LDL choles­terol, in­clud­ing lower lev­els of small, dense LDL choles­terol, which are be­lieved to sig­nif­i­cantly raise the risk of heart dis­ease.

An­other study, in­volv­ing 17,567 peo­ple, showed that those who ate av­o­ca­dos reg­u­larly were half as likely to have meta­bolic syn­drome.

Fatty fish like salmon, mack­erel, sar­dines and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been stud­ied ex­ten­sively for their heart-health ben­e­fits.

In one study of 324 peo­ple, eat­ing salmon three times a week for eight weeks sig­nif­i­cantly de­creased di­as­tolic blood pres­sure.

An­other study showed that eat­ing fish over the long term was linked to lower lev­els of to­tal choles­terol, blood triglyc­erides, fast­ing blood sugar and sys­tolic blood pres­sure. Ad­di­tion­ally, each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) de­crease in weekly fish con­sump­tion was as­so­ci­ated with a 19% higher like­li­hood of hav­ing one ad­di­tional risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease, such as high blood pres­sure, di­a­betes or obe­sity (22).

If you don’t eat much seafood, fish oil is an­other op­tion for get­ting your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

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