Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent heart disease, and one of the big ones is to control our diets.
Diet plays a crucial role in the development and prevention of cardiovascular disease. For instance, research shows that people with a diet high in saturated fats (e.g. cheese) and trans fats (e.g. cookies, fast food, cakes) and sodium have an increased risk for high cholesterol and hypertension, two of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. By changing our eating habits, we are reducing our risk of having heart diseases.
Here’s a list of foods that can help you keep your heart healthy:
Vegetables and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which offer protection against heart disease. They are also important sources of folate. Folate lowers the blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which appears to be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Certain types of fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids which help in lowering blood fats known as triglycerides. This type of fat has also been shown to increase HDL-cholesterol levels, improve blood vessel elasticity and thin the blood, making it less likely to clot and cause blockage to blood flow.
A compound found in garlic known as allicin has been found in some studies to lower blood cholesterol.
Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients that play an essential role in regulating blood pressure and improving heart health. Examples of grain products that are heart-healthy are whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, high-fiber cereal, and ground flaxseed.