Heart disease kills more people in the United States than anything else, according to Health.com. However, you can fight back. Prevention Magazine wrote that “studies show that up to 70 percent of heart disease can be averted with the right regimen.”
Part of the right regimen is including healthy produce in your diet. Here are six fruits and vegetables to start incorporating into your diet for optimal heart health.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and the like contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help blood flow to the heart, and protect against plaque buildup, said LiveStrong.com. Harvard University researchers discovered that women who had at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week ran lower risks of having a heart attack.
The creaminess of an avocado’s flesh comes from its healthy monounsaturated fats, which are responsible for lowering bad cholesterol. Avocados are high in antioxidants and potassium.
Researchers believe avocados help fight against chronic inflammation which can worsen atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of artery walls, explained WebMD.
3) Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables include collard, mustard, salad and turnip greens, spinach and Swiss chard. These vegetables are high in fiber and contain numerous vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants, expelling any potentially harmful compounds.
Cruciferous vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables could be related to a reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.
A cruciferous powerhouse, kale has heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, folate, omega-3 essential fatty acids, potassium and vitamin E. It's also rich in lutein. All work to keep the heart healthy.
A first-rate source of vitamins C and A, potassium and fiber, tomatoes are also high in the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene works in tangent with other vitamins and minerals to help with heart disease prevention.
5) Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits include grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges. “These contain carotenoids and flavonoids that protect against oxidative stress and decrease the body’s inflammation which helps prevent cardiovascular disease,” stated LiveStrong.com.
New research shows something impressive, as reported on Prevention. “Citrus pectin helps neutralize a protein called galectin-3 that causes scarring of heart tissue and leads to congestive heart failure.”
Oranges seem to deliver a knockout punch to cholesterol. Pectin, the soluble fiber in oranges, works like a sponge, soaking up cholesterol and stopping its absorption.
Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including anthocyanins and polyphenols, which may help reduce plaque buildup in arteries and lower blood pressure.
“One study of heart disease patients found that daily intake of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart,” said Health.com.
This list is a just start for optimal heart health. The more healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet, the better.
Reviewed February 11, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
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Jennings, MS, RD, Kerri-Ann. "Top Heart-Healthy Foods: Best Foods for Cardiovascular Health." WebMD. WebMD. Web. 06 Feb. 2016.
Kaplan Corwin, Alexandra. "The Best Fruits and Vegetables for Your Heart." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 2014. Web. 06 Feb. 2016.
Underwood, Anne. "9 Superfoods For Your Heart." Prevention. Web. 06 Feb. 2016.