Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, but we can do much to change that. What you put into your diet directly impacts your heart health, which means making a few changes in your diet could save your life. If you want to lower your blood sugar and bad cholesterol or help unblock your arteries, you will want to shop for these heart-smart foods that are commonly overlooked.

Fruits are good for your heart!

Apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

Like strawberries and blueberries, berries are superfoods rich in flavonoids, which can dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure, helping with Circulation. Strawberries and blueberries also prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, but be careful with grapefruit, as it can interfere with some medications. Citrus contains high levels of a compound that can help widen the arteries and prevent plaque buildup. A study published in February in the journal Stroke (2012) found that the flavonoids in grapefruits and oranges reduce the risk of ischemic stroke in women.

Chia Seeds are loaded with nutrients!

Did you know that Chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant-based food? That makes them a heart-smart addition to your diet. According to the American Heart Association (AHA, 2022), omega-3 fatty acids lowers bad cholesterol, reduce your risk of abnormal heart rhythms, and stabilize blood pressure. Chia seeds are also good sources of protein, antioxidants, and essential minerals, including iron, magnesium, and soluble fiber.

Green Tea is loaded with antioxidants!

Green Tea is full of antioxidants called catechins and polyphenols, which can protect you from heart disease and prevent cell damage. A 2016 study reviewed at an American Health Association conference found that green tea drinkers have fewer major heart events like stroke and heart attack when compared with people who don’t drink Green Tea. It is recommended to make green tea right from the leaves without additives.

Quinoa packs a powerful punch!

The Incas, around 4,000 years ago, first discovered quinoa. Did you know quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, including lysine, key in tissue growth and repair? Quinoa is a gluten-free whole-grain superfood, high in protein and rich in minerals. Add quinoa to your salads, soups, muffins, pancakes, and more to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate; yup!

Yes, this guilty pleasure is heart-smart. Dark Chocolate has flavonoids that improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. A study conducted by the British Medical Journal (2012) reported that dark chocolate consumption could lower the risk of stroke for those at high risk for heart disease. **watch your portion size, as it is kind to your heart but not so much for your waistline.

Fatty fish loads you up with omega-3s.

It’s best to get your nutritional sources from fresh foods rather than supplements. Salmon, anchovies, sardines, and other fatty fish, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce your risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack, and control high blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic (2020) reported eating just two servings of fatty fish per week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. But be careful when selecting fish to avoid cardiotoxins (high in mercury) found in swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel.

Cauliflower is full of vitamin C!

Eating a diet rich in cruciferous veggies lowers coronary heart disease risk. Cruciferous plants, such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, are a great source of vitamin C. A review of the literature published by Circulation (2008) shows that these veggies are high in folic acid, which can lower the risk of a heart attack.

Dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are rich in vitamin K, making your blood clot effectively. But, they may reduce the benefits of blood thinners. But, don’t stop eating them; monitor your portion size and eat the same amount every day.

Beans they’re good for your heart!

Heart-healthy beans are one of the most underrated superfoods. Pinto, kidney, and black beans are loaded with heart-healthy soluble fibers that can help lower LDL cholesterol. They’re easy and inexpensive to make and store. It doesn’t matter if they come in a can or if you soak them overnight. If you like, you can wash 40% of the sodium off of canned beans.

Nuts lower the risk of heart disease.

Nuts contain healthy fats, which put them high on heart-healthy foods. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews are also superfoods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower the risk of heart attack, reduce the risk of developing blood clots, and prevent dangerous heart rhythms. The Mayo Clinic (2022) reported that adding nuts to your diet can lower your bad or (LDL) cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. Try to only eat about an ounce per day, or the nuts will go nuts on your waistline. However, they are a much healthier snack than something sugary.

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