As the new year has just visited us, many of you are looking at your lifestyle choices and diet and want to take better care of yourselves. Here are the ultimate healthy heart foods:
Berries are a fantastic superfood and the berries you need to be consuming are strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. These can be consumed naturally or even in organic healthy jams. They can also be eaten as healthy snacks or mixed in your protein shakes.
Berries are rich in antioxidants which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contributes toward the development of heart disease. Berries are also associated with reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, body mass index and markers of inflammation.
Breaking News: Chocolate is good for you, well dark chocolate that is. It actually lowers the risk of heart disease so you should stock up. Eaten in moderation, of course, studies have shown that dark chocolate lowers the risk of having calcified in plaque in the arteries.
The quality of the chocolate you eat is important and you need to make sure to pick high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%. Lindt offers a great variety of dark chocolate as well as Green & Blacks.
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When used well in cooking, garlic can add beautiful flavor to any dish. In fact, it often enhances the taste as well as the aroma. Studies have found that garlic extract can inhibit platelet buildup, which may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
It’s easy to cook with garlic. When cooking with beef just chop it up and cook it with the onions beforehand. If making lamb, create slits in the lamb (like little pockets) and jam pack it with the good stuff.
It has been emphasized time and time again that drinking green tea is really healthy for you. It increases fat burning and improves insulin sensitivity. It works as an antioxidant and reduces inflammation to protect the health of your heart.
It should always be drunk plain, never with milk. If you need to sweeten it up, do so with raw honey and you can even add a slice of lemon and throw in mint leaves for extra taste. Drinking matcha, which is also similar to green tea also helps.
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Have you ever cut a tomato in half and actually looked inside? It literally looks like the chambers of the heart. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene which is a natural antioxidant. Large intakes of lycopene is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
Antioxidant levels of tomatoes actually increase when you cook them so add to stews and soup. Eat them raw as snacks and add to salads. They are a welcome addition to any plate or just eat raw with some pink Himalayan sea salt.
One of the most delicious of the nut family, almonds are incredibly nutrient-dense, and contain an extensive list of both vitamins and minerals that are crucial to the health of your heart. In fact, research suggests that eating almonds can have a powerful effect on your cholesterol levels too.
Almonds can be added to your muesli and you can carry them around as the perfect snack. For a sweet treat, dip almonds in raw honey. Studies have also shown that eating almonds is associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which can help reduce plaque buildup and keep your arteries clear.
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If you are going to cook with any sort of oil or add it to salads, make sure you choose olive oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil. It has antioxidants, relieves inflammation and decreases the risk of chronic disease.
Next time you cook scrambled eggs, use olive oil instead of butter to line the pan. It is rich with monounsaturated fatty acids and many studies have associated it with improvements in heart health.
Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are all fantastic sources of heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. A number of studies have found that by adding these types of seeds to your diet, you can improve many heart disease risk factors, including inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Ways to include seeds in your diet is by buying or baking bread which contain these seeds. You can also add them to shakes. Flaxseeds also include omega 6 as well as omega 9 which are great for you to ingest.
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Just like other soy products, edamame is rich in soy isoflavones which is a type of flavonoid that may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. You will find edamame at most sushi restaurants and are quite delicious in their simplicity.
In addition to its isoflavone content, edamame is a good source of other heart-healthy nutrients, including dietary fiber as well as antioxidants.
Beans add flavor and texture to many dishes. They are very popular in Mexican dishes and are a lovely addition to soups. They make you feel full and have many healthy benefits. Actually, beans contain resistant starch, which resists digestion and is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Multiple studies have also found that eating beans can reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. What’s more, eating beans has been linked to reduce blood pressure and inflammation, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. There is also such a variety to choose from, big or small!
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Walnuts are shaped like a brain and rightly so as they are good for brain health. They are also a great source of fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, copper and manganese. Research shows that incorporating a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help protect against heart disease.
An easy way to include walnuts in your diet is by keeping them nearby as a snack as well as adding them to salads and your muesli. You can also make delicious walnut tarts and bread as well as walnut cake if you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen.
Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are really good for you. Food and supplements rich in this do amazing things in your body and mind. 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.
It’s easy to add these to your diet. You can take omega-3 supplements, eat salmon -which can be prepared in a plethora of ways. You can eat tuna-mayo sandwiches and treat yourself to sardine salad. Other omega-3 supplements like krill oil or algal oil are popular alternatives.
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For some reason, the general population just love avocados. There’s even an all-avocado restaurant in Amsterdam!! Avocados are rich in texture and taste like nothing else on earth. They are the perfect substitute for fattening spreads and make welcome additions to any salad.
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. They are also rich in potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to heart health.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Well, mom wasn’t kidding when she said, “eat your veggies!” Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale as well as collard greens are well-known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some studies have found a link between increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables and a lower risk of heart disease.
Leafy green vegetables can be baked into tarts – such as spinach tart, but are best raw in salads and covered in healthy olive oil. You can also add them to sandwiches and even add spinach to Greek pizzas.
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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 fiber, which may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. There is quite a variety in whole grains and you can do a lot with the options given. Quinoa is particularly good for you although it is not exactly a grain.