Just take a moment and think about the fact that nearly one third of all deaths worldwide are caused by heart and cardiovascular diseases. This is a crazy high percentage.
Certain foods and food groups are proven to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
As a general rule of thumb, non-processed, whole foods that are high in fiber, healthy fats, and low in sugars and carbs are great for your heart, and your health in general.
Read on to discover the ten best foods that will improve your cardiovascular health.
The 10 best foods for your heart and cardiovascular system
We’ve curated a list of the most heart-healthy foods you can eat to prevent cardiovascular disease.
1) Swiss chard
Leafy greens in general, are an excellent food for your health and your gut. Swiss chard especially, is rich in potassium and magnesium and contains minerals that help control and lower blood pressure.
Swiss chard is packing a lot of fiber, vitamin A and antioxidants. Like all leafy greens, you can easily serve it alongside meat or fish for a complete meal.
Salmon is rich in omega 3 healthy fats, which reduce the risk of heart rhythm disorders and help lower blood pressure. Salmon and omega-3 rich foods have also been found to lower triglycerides and control inflammation. You should opt to eat salmon or some other omega 3 rich fish once a week.
Avocados have been crowned as the superfood of the 21st century. You can find them everywhere, they are ubiquitous today in restaurants and supermarkets, and the great thing is that they go with everything. You can have them for breakfast, dinner, or lunch - in a salad, on toasted bread, or even accompany your meaty protein.
Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, avocados are packed with potassium, which is crucial to the health of your heart.
4) Black Beans
Black beans are often another overlooked heart-healthy food due to the fact that’s considered as the go-to food you eat when you’re on a budget and hungry.
But beans, and more specifically black beans, are a powerhouse of a food that promotes good heart health. They are rich in folate, antioxidants, and magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure levels. They are also rich in fiber, which is excellent for your gut and lower your sugar levels.
Start adding beans in your salads and soups to boost their nutritional levels.
Walnuts have long been connected with heart-healthy diets. They are full of fiber, magnesium, copper, and manganese that help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and blood pressure and decrease oxidative stress and inflammations.
Much like fatty fish and avocados, walnuts are also packing a lot of omega-3 healthy fats and plant sterols.
Just have a handful of walnuts every day and enjoy a healthy and strong heart.
Sticking with the nuts family, we have another excellent contender for the best heart-healthy nuts out there. Almonds are a great source of plant sterols, fiber, and healthy fats that lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
We recommend eating them interchangeably with walnuts to mix up your diet and ensure you diversify your nutritional intake on a daily basis.
7) Dark chocolate
It’s no secret that dark chocolate is always recommended as part of a healthy diet, which can only sweeten the deal!
Dark chocolate has quite a few heart-healthy nutrients like flavonoids (antioxidants), which lower the risk of heart disease. A recent study has shown that people who consumed dark chocolate (albeit in small quantities) weekly had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
When it comes to dark chocolate, it is imperative though to pay attention to its sugar content. Opt for chocolates made from 70% cacao or more, otherwise, the high sugars and calories found in chocolate can offset its health-promoting benefits.
8) Red wine
Red wine has been long thought of as a tremendous heart-healthy alcoholic drink. Red wine is rich in polyphenols, which is a type of antioxidant that help increase the “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol when it’s consumed in moderation.
Garlic is packed with tons of healthy nutrients that promote good health, and when appropriately cooked, you don’t even have to “deal” with its strong smell!
Garlic helps lower blood pressure levels, and due to a substance called allicin, it helps reduce cholesterol and decrease the risks of blood clots building up and strokes.
It’s always preferable to eat garlic raw to ensure no nutrients are lost during cooking, but if you can’t convince yourself due to its strong smell, then crush it and let it sit for a while before you cook it - this allows for the formation of allicin.
10) Olive Oil
Olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, has tons of heart-healthy benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic disease. It’s also packing in monounsaturated fatty acids that improve heart health.
A recent study showed that individuals who consume more olive oil have a 48% lower risk of dying from heart disease.