6 Heart-Healthy Superfoods
As we age, taking care of our hearts should become more of a priority. This is especially the case if you have a history of heart disease and high blood pressure in your family. Fortunately, there are some foods you can include in your diet to improve the health of your heart and support overall well-being.
Fatty fish, particularly salmon, mackerel and sardines are especially heart-healthy because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help to lower the risk of irregular heartbeat and the buildup of dangerous plaque in the arteries. According to the American Heart Association, eating fatty fish at least two days out of the week can help improve circulation and the condition of your heart.
A number of studies have proven that dark chocolate could be good for your heart. There was a 2012 study that revealed that eating dark chocolate daily could lower the risk of stroke and non-fatal heart attacks in people who are susceptible to these conditions. However, the chocolate should be made of at least 60% cocoa. Dark chocolate is a reliable source of polyphenols, which helps prevent blood clotting, inflammation and hypertension.
Blueberries can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32% when you eat them about three times a week. This benefit applies to strawberries and other types of berries, too. Berries protect the health of the heart due to an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which lower blood pressure and cause the blood vessels to dilate.
Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber which helps to lower cholesterol levels. The fiber absorbs the fat in the digestive tract to make it easier for fat to leave the body. It's best to prepare homemade oatmeal instead of using packaged varieties, so that you can control the amount of sugar in the oatmeal.
Oranges and grapefruits are high in flavonoids, and women who eat these fruits often lowered their chances of ischemic stroke by 19% as opposed to women who did not get lots of flavonoids in their diets, according to a 2012 study. Citrus fruits are also known for being rich in vitamin C, which enhances the immune system and lowers heart disease risk. However, it's important to consult your doctor if you're taking statin drugs, since grapefruit could interfere with the effectiveness of the medicine.
Finally, don't eliminate potatoes from your diet, especially if you're watching your heart health. Baking or broiling potatoes is best, since you won't have to consume the extra fat that comes from fried potatoes. Potatoes are high in potassium which lowers the blood pressure, and they're a great source of fiber, which lowers heart disease risk.