Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States. Fortunately, the right diet and exercise can help prevent heart disease and support a strong cardiovascular system. The best foods for heart health include legumes, certain oils, fish, leafy greens, and tree nuts. Here, Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York, examines several foods and their heart health benefits.
What Is Heart Health?
Heart health refers to the heart and cardiovascular system’s level of well-being. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states certain risk factors can harm a heart and possibly lead to heart disease, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Other factors that can lead to poor heart health include smoking, insufficient exercise or physical activity, and family history of heart disease and ailments. Age plays a role, as does consistently eating an excess of unhealthy foods that are high in saturated fats, processed sugars, and salt. The good news is there are lots of ways to enhance heart health, starting with incorporating lots of superfoods into one’s regular diet.
What Are Some of the Best Foods for Heart Health?
Many foods can boost heart health. They include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and healthy proteins like seafood. The following foods are particularly high in heart-healthy nutrients:
This grain boasts an impressive line of health and heart benefits. It has been shown to decrease the level of harmful cholesterol in the cardiovascular system and increase the number of helpful gut bacteria that aid digestion. Oatmeal contains compounds that can lower blood pressure and is loaded with manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B1. Other healthy grains are whole rice, wheat, rye, and spelt.
Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, and other rich-colored berries are also excellent for the heart and rich in antioxidants. They can increase the body’s helpful cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent arterial plaque from building up, which can decrease the chance of a heart attack.
Orange vegetables include carrots, peppers, certain squash varieties, sweet potatoes, and yams. These are delicious on their own or mixed in with salads and pasta dishes. In addition to helping to minimize the risk of specific cancers, they also help to lower the risk of heart disease.
Nuts of all kinds, from walnuts and almonds to pecans and pistachios, are exceptional ingredients for heart health. They provide filling and healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep the whole body functioning well. Like berries and whole grains, regularly incorporating nuts into a healthy diet can help lower high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Beans and Legumes
Legumes, such as peanuts and lentils, are nutritious sources of protein and fiber. This is also true for beans, which include garbanzo, black, red, kidney, and pinto. These foods can also lower cholesterol and help maintain a healthy blood sugar level, which in turn helps decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes.
There are several healthy oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids and have anti-inflammatory tendencies to lower cancer risks. They also contain higher levels of healthy fats, which lower bad cholesterol. These oils include olive, flax, canola, avocado, walnut, and grape seed. When possible, cook with these oils instead of butter.
These are just a few types of foods that can help maintain a healthy heart. In addition to a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, consuming alcohol in moderation, managing stress, and scheduling regular checkups are all recommended as a holistic approach to ensure good heart health.
Discuss Heart Health with Richmond University Medical Center
The skilled cardiology physicians and staff at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York, are here to help patients develop a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet with the best foods for their hearts. The cardiology team has extensive experience providing heart care, from emergency services to advanced diagnostic testing. Richmond University Medical Center has even been recognized by the American Heart Association for its quality of care and service. For questions regarding a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, contact us today.