5 heart-healthy foods we should all be eating
Heart disease is still the world’s biggest killer
As we get older, heart health becomes a major priority and, according to experts, heart disease and stroke are still the leading causes of death globally.
If you think that only men suffer from heart disease then think again, as women can be affected too.
But whether you’re a man or a woman there are some important lifestyle choices you can make to limit your risk of heart disease.
Quitting smoking, exercising daily and limiting alcohol are important but making smart food choices is also key.
Here we’ve found a handful of heart-healthy foods to load onto our plates more often.
When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, berries are nutritional powerhouses that we could benefit from eating more of.
Common varieties like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are packed with anthocyanins – a type of flavonoid that’s responsible for giving berries, as well as other fruit and veg, their red, purple or blue colour.
Anthocyanins are good for us as they can protect the body against oxidative stress that can contribute to health problems like heart disease.
Try sprinkling a berry mix onto breakfast porridge or simply wash and plate them up as a healthy afternoon snack.
2. Fatty fish
The essential fatty acids in fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel are vital for maintaining heart health, especially as we age. This is because fatty fish is packed with Omega-3, a type unsaturated fatty acid that’s long been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects.
In fact, a study found that eating salmon three times a week, over the course of two months could significantly decrease blood pressure in some adults.
Experts recommend eating at least one portion of oily fish a week.
3. Seeds and nuts
Research has found that people who are in danger of a heart attack can cut their risk by including more nuts into their diet.
A study found that eating walnuts, in particular, can reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the body, which can play a key role in the build up of deposits in your arteries.
Other nutrient-dense nuts to add into salads and snacking include almonds, pistachios and cashews, which are also good sources of dietary fibre and protein.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is a key staple of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked with overall good health, including a healthier heart.
The diet incorporates many of the eating habits of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, with an emphasis on plant-based foods and fish, rather than meat and dairy.
A study of 7,216 adults also found that those who included olive oil in their diet had a 35% lower risk of developing heart disease, and that the extra-virgin variety gave extra protection.
5. Leafy greens
Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are not only low in calories but are packed with disease-fighting vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Notably, they’re a great source of vitamin K, which is vital for proper blood clotting in the body, and could help protect against osteoporosis and inflammatory disease.
Green leafy vegetables are also jam-packed with nitrates, which studies suggest can reduce blood pressure.
If you don’t love the taste of fresh greens in a salad or nourish bowl, you could try whizzing them up in a morning smoothie with some fresh fruit to sweeten the bitter taste.
Visit our diet and exercise section for handy tips on how to improve your health.
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