The heart is one of the most vital organs of our body, pumping blood to all parts of the body. It pumps nutrient-rich oxygenated blood to the body’s cells. It also carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs, kidneys and liver to remove carbon dioxide and other waste products.
Like other organs, our heart also needs nutrients to work effortlessly. But these days we love to chew junk and processed foods that are dangerous for coronary arteries and heart muscles. These food choices increase the rate of aging and make us more susceptible to various cardiovascular diseases and conditions.
Foods rich in nutrients, plant-based photochemicals and antioxidants help remove free radicals (responsible for aging and various heart diseases) and toxins. They prevent our heart and blood vessels from becoming chronically ill.
Superfoods good for heart health
These superfoods contain a variety of beneficial fibers, fats, essential micronutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. They can protect our hearts by lowering blood pressure, increasing good cholesterol and preventing plaque buildup in the coronary arteries. Therefore, if you plan your diet for a healthy heart, don’t forget to add the following superfoods to your meal:
Almonds and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, monounsaturated fats and plant sterols. This list of heart-friendly elements is crucial for heart health and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Therefore, grab a handful of these nuts and notice their benefits.
Berries, including blueberries and cherries, are rich in soluble fiber, plant phytonutrients and anthocyanins (antioxidants), which protect our hearts from oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions.
Flax seeds are rich in fiber, lignins (phytochemical) and omega-3 fatty acids, which improve heart health. Therefore, add these honey-colored seeds to your baked goods, yogurt, shakes, smoothies and breakfast cereals.
This whole grain food helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and keep your heart healthy.
Oats and oatmeal contain beta-glucan fiber, which helps lower both LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce blood vessel inflammation and prevent muscle damage.
Oranges are rich in pectin fiber, potassium and vitamin C, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming oranges helps control blood pressure and improve blood vessel health.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and potassium, which lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This heart-friendly fruit reduces the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, lycopene and vitamin A, which improve cardiovascular health. They also have a low glycemic index and prevent the sudden spike in blood sugar after consumption.
Black beans are rich in fiber, nutrients, magnesium, folate and antioxidants, which help control blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also protect our hearts from radical-induced damage and chronic diseases.
Edamame or soybeans contain heart-healthy fiber, soy protein and nutrients, which can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. Therefore, add edamame to your diet as an appetizer or evening snack.
Fresh herbs, such as cilantro, rosemary, coriander and mint leaves, add a wonderful flavor to dishes. Do you know that with the addition of seasonings, they are also heart-friendly spices.
Red wine contains two powerful antioxidants, such as resveratrol and catechin. These antioxidants protect the arterial walls against damage and increase the good cholesterol (HDL) level.
According to health care providers, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Therefore, one drink for women and two for men is the recommended daily amount of alcohol.
Famous seafood, salmon, mackerel and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of arrhythmia.
Turn your saturated fat into more heart-friendly olive oil. It is rich in antioxidants, which protect the heart against various chronic diseases.
Low-fat yogurt contains several micronutrients, such as calcium and potassium. These nutrients keep blood vessels healthy and control high blood pressure.
Leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nitrates, which help expand blood vessels and improve blood flow. Therefore, add spinach, mustard leaves, beetroot, Bok Chou and lettuce to your meal to improve cardiovascular health.
Soy products contain omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and fiber, which improve heart health. Therefore, add tofu and other soy products to your diet to reap the heart-healthy benefits.
Black tea and green tea are rich in polyphenols, which improve blood vessel functions, reduce inflammation and improve good cholesterol levels.
By changing your eating habits and consuming more heart-friendly foods, you improve the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Dr. Anand Kumar Pandey, Director & Senior Consultant – Interventional Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi.