(Natural News) A healthy diet is vital to preventing cardiovascular disease and reversing the damage to the heart and general health. When taken together with regular physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle, eating heart-friendly foods will reduce the risk of heart disease.
Berries, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Berries are very good for the heart. They reduce bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index. The red and blue-colored ones are considered the healthiest, so indulge in blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Leafy greens strengthen the heart through copious amounts of vitamin K, which reduces the stiffening of blood vessels and supports arterial health. It is recommended to eat both raw and cooked arugula, collards, kale, and spinach to get the most benefits.
Likewise, the high levels of potassium in avocados lead to the release of more nitric oxide, resulting in lower blood pressure and more efficient arteries. Avocados also have healthy monounsaturated fats that decrease bad cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Eating nuts, seeds, and peanuts – a legume lumped in with nuts – are beneficial for the heart in many ways. They reduce LDL cholesterol levels, prevent inflammation, improve insulin resistance, and enhance the endothelium. Walnuts, flax, and chia seeds are particularly rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Cocoa, beans, tomatoes, and apples
The potency of the antioxidant content in cocoa powder supposedly exceeds superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranate. A 2011 study by the University of Cambridge showed that eating large amounts of dark chocolate prevents cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Pick dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa.
Beans contain plenty of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins that are good for the heart. They also contain polyphenols that fight inflammation and oxidative stress that comes from plaque in the arteries. While there is no such thing as an unhealthy bean, the darker-colored ones have the most phytochemicals.
Tomatoes boast of a carotenoid called lycopene that gives the fruit its bright red color, plus anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities that prevent heart disease. Tomatoes can be eaten raw but are healthier when cooked.
Apples are similar to beans in that they contain lots of fiber and polyphenols, particularly the tough-to-digest carbohydrate called pectin, which stops cholesterol from getting absorbed by the gut. Their other plant-based chemical compounds bring down cholesterol and blood pressure levels with almost the same effect as statins, but without harmful effects.
Spices are good for the heart
Eating a clove of garlic each day can reduce blood cholesterol levels by up to nine percent. The extract of the spice also prevents harmful clotting and lowers blood pressure.
What lycopene is to tomatoes, curcumin is to turmeric. In addition to giving the spice its yellow color, curcumin is an antioxidant that protects against heart disease.
Ginger is prescribed by traditional medicine for treating heart disease. Its active component, gingerol, is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory like curcumin and lycopene. Animal studies show that large doses of a ginger-derived extract can reduce cholesterol levels and blood clotting.
Black pepper is a veritable mine for minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc. Magnesium supports the vascular system and blood circulation, potassium handles heart rate and blood pressure, and zinc is yet another antioxidant.
The cinnamon that gives apple pie its distinct taste is traditionally used as a medicinal herb for heart problems. It increases nitric oxide and helps reduce cholesterol.
Coriander is another traditional medicine for cholesterol. Much of its anti-cholesterol activity is found in its seeds, and it works well with curry leaves to prevent dangerous blood clotting.
The list doesn’t stop here. Visit SuperfoodsNews.com for more foods that can give your heart that extra protection against disease.