(NaturalNews) When it comes to eating for good health, choosing foods for heart health should be at the top of the list. The heart is the organ that literally keeps us going - delivering nutrients, oxygen and disease fighters throughout the body. Cardiovascular disease also happens to be the leading cause of death in the U.S., ranking just ahead of cancer.
There are several foods which can help give us a healthy heart and cardiovascular system - especially if they are chosen in their healthiest whole food forms. Instead of processed foods found on grocers' shelves, choose fresh whole foods which you can eat with little or no processing and cooking. Certified organic whole foods are the best choice of all.
Top foods for a healthy heart
Cayenne has been called "the king of herbs" for good reason, and that is especially true when it comes to heart health. It is loaded with antioxidants and other valuable compounds which help protect the heart and arteries.
As the famed herbal healer Dr. Shulze said, "If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other."
Popeye's favorite vegetable is a delicious, nutritious fighting machine when it comes to heart health. Included among the many heart-healthy compounds in spinach are: potassium, folate, calcium, betaine, antioxidant carotenoid lutein and nitrate. Spinach is also one of only two plant sources of co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which is vital for heart and muscle health.
Blueberries are one of our most powerful disease-fighting foods. They get their dark blue color from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanins and they are packed with heart-healthy fiber and vitamin C.
This cold-water fish is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is also a great source of protein. You can also get plenty of omega-3s from pollock, tuna, herring, mackerel and swordfish.
Legumes, including beans, are full of protein, are virtually fat-free and are loaded with fiber, iron, calcium and potassium.
Fresh beans may take longer to soak and cook than canned ones, but they taste better, aren't packed with sodium and preservatives and they're less expensive.
Nuts are a great source of healthful proteins, vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats raise good cholesterol levels and escorts bad cholesterol to the liver, where it's filtered from your body.
Grandma referred to fiber as "roughage" and we need plenty of it each day. Oats are a good way to get it. Oats are a great source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Oatmeal topped with blueberries gives you a super heart-healthy breakfast.
This green super-veggie gives you vitamins C and E, calcium, folate, fiber and beta-carotene. Along with spinach, broccoli is a rare natural source of CoQ10. Broccoli is healthiest if eaten raw or lightly steamed.
Asparagus is another supremely healthy vegetable. It contains significant amounts of folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and beta-carotene. Try lightly steaming asparagus in butter and lemon juice along with minced garlic and perhaps a touch of sea salt.
Flaxseed has loads of fiber, omega-3s and other beneficial nutrients. Not normally eaten by itself, flaxseed goes great as a salad topper and in muffins, cereal and cookies.
Sweet potatoes are delicious (especially when mashed) and are a great source of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamins A, C and E.
Garlic helps maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and helps prevent atherosclerosis. Garlic is healthiest when fresh or freshly crushed, as well as in fermented form and garlic oil.