heart healthy foods

12 Heart Healthy Foods That Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk

Unhealthy eating habit is one of the major causes of the heart disease. Efforts to make healthy eating choices greatly help in reducing the risk of cardiac diseases. Heart healthy foods are extremely beneficial for the heart health and the people who are at risk of cardiac disease should include these foods in their regular diet.

This article will summarize below some of these heart healthy foods that when appropriately consumed can help in significantly decreasing the risk of heart diseases.

1. Heart healthy foods – Oatmeal

Cholesterol can be a very dangerous for the cardiac health. It has a tendency to deposit in the blood vessels. This will cause the vessels to clog and leading to numerous cardiac health issues. Oatmeal which is high in soluble fiber helps the body in lowering the cholesterol. The fiber from the oatmeal absorbs the cholesterol in the Gastro-intestinal tract thus limiting its absorption in the bloodstream. Other similar foods containing the whole grains like grits, bread and pasta are also helpful in limiting the absorption of the cholesterol in the body.

2. Dark Chocolate

As remote as it looks, several studies has now established that in people who are at an increased risk, dark chocolate actually reduces the incidence of non-fatal heart attacks as well as strokes.  The studies have used the chocolate which was made up of 60-70% cocoa and flavonoids like polyphenols which helps the body with clotting, inflammation and regulating blood pressure. However, one must avoid candy bars and milk chocolate when it comes to protecting the heart.

3. Blue Berries

Several types of berries including the blueberries, strawberries can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32% when consumed in more than three servings per week as shown in one study. Experts concluded that the flavonoids and anthocyanin found in the berries tends to dilate the blood vessels thus improving the blood flow and decreasing the blood pressure.

4. Salmon

Appropriate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids found in the salmon, mackerels and sardines are extremely beneficial for the heart health.  Apart from decreasing the triglycerides (Bad Cholesterol), they significantly lower the risk of arrhythmia as well as atherosclerosis. This is why American Heart Association recommends eating the fatty fish twice a week at least. Dietary supplements of the Omega-3 are also available in the market.

5. Citrus Fruits

Flavonoids that are in very large amounts in the citrus fruits significantly lower the risk of ischemic heart diseases in women as per the latest studies.  High amount of vitamin C in the citrus fruits also lower the risks of heart disease markedly.

6. Nuts

Nuts which includes peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios and almonds are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is extremely important in reducing the amounts of the bad cholesterol in the body. Hence these are heart healthy foods. However Vitamin E is not the only heart healthy component of the nuts. They are also rich in fiber which is good for the heart health. They absorb the cholesterol in the gut before the absorption to the blood stream.  Some nuts like walnuts are also rich in the omega-3 fatty acids. This further helps in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol in the body.

7. Potatoes

French fries can be bad for your heart but not the potatoes. Actually potatoes are healthy for your heart when they are not deep fried. High potassium levels found in the potatoes can be very helpful in lowering of the blood pressure. Apart from the potassium, high levels of fiber present in the potatoes helps reducing the risk of heart diseases.

8. Tomatoes

Like potatoes, the heart healthiness of the tomatoes can also be attributed to the high levels of the potassium that plays an important role in the regulation of the blood pressure in the body. However potassium is not the only heart-healthy element in the tomatoes. Antioxidant lycopene that are in the tomatoes helps greatly in reducing the levels of cholesterol in the body as well as causes the dilation of the blood vessels resulting in improved blood flow and lowering of blood pressure. These effects ultimately lead to decreased risk of heart attack and better heart health. Tomatoes are safe for using in high amounts in the diet as they are very low on sugar content and calories and makes up an important component of the healthy diet.

9. Legumes

Legumes are derived from plants which include lentils, peas and beans and are rich in proteins. The best part about them is that the levels of unhealthy fats are very low thus they are safe for consumption in healthy amounts. Studies have established that the people consuming legumes more often are at significantly lower risk of heart disease than those who consume them less often. It has also shown to greatly help in controlling the blood sugar levels in the diabetic patients ultimately reducing the risk of diabetic complications like heart disease.

10. Green Tea

Once popular only in Asia, the popularity of the green tea has been on the rise in the western world as well and rightly so. Studies have established several health benefits of the green tea, one of which is the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. A study conducted in 2013 has found that the consumption of 4-5 cups a day of green tea daily tends to reduce the risk of heart disease up to 20% compared to those who consumed it rarely. Experts have attributed the heart-healthiness of the green tea to the antioxidants known as catechins.

11. Olive Oil

Mono-saturated fatty acids are excellent for the heart health as they reduce the levels of cholesterol in the body. Olive oil is a great source of these mono-saturated fatty acids. Apart from this they also plays an important role regulating the levels of the blood sugar in the diabetic patients. Recommendations are there for patients who suffer from the co-morbidities of hypertension and diabetes to consume the olive oil as part of their daily diet. Hence olive oil is one among the heart healthy foods.

12. Vegetables

When we discuss about heart healthy foods, we can’t ignore the importance of the vegetables. Green vegetables are high in antioxidants known as the carotenoids that help the body in getting rid of the harmful compounds present in the body and boosting the heart health. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals. All of these imparts a positive effect on the health of the heart.

Published by

Dr. Aleksandar Grbovic

Dr. Aleksandar Grbovic

Hi! My name is Aleksandar Grbovic. I’m a radiology resident with five years of experience in General Medicine. As a medical writer, I have only one goal in my mind - to bridge the gap between doctors and patients point of view by breaking down complex medical topics and presenting them in lay people language. Knowing that my writing might help someone out there connect the dots is what keeps me motivated.

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