Cardiovascular diseases are disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They can refer to a number of conditions such as:
Stroke – happens when a blood vessel within the brain bursts or a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot.
Heart disease – often related to atherosclerosis.
Heart attack – occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot.
Heart failure – happens when the heart fails to pump blood with normal efficiency.
Heart valve problems – occurs when the heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow.
Arrhythmia – a rhythm of the heartbeat. It means that the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), heart disease is one of the main reasons of death around the world and one of its leading causes is too much consumption of sodium and cholesterol.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to lower our risk of getting heart diseases. This includes getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, managing stress, getting enough sleep, reducing sodium intake, eliminating processed food which is known to be high in sodium, and eating a healthy diet.
Many health experts suggest that eating fresh food is the key to keep our heart healthy.
According to Laura Acosta, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) lecturer in dietetics in food science and human nutrition:
“So, when you think about canned food, those TV dinner-type foods, anything that’s packaged and processed, a lot of times, there will be a decent amount of sodium in those. So really just try to stick with your fresh, minimally processed food – fruits and vegetables are a great way to start.”
Moreover, we also need to control our cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, can clog our arteries and raise the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Blood cholesterol can be regulated by limiting our intake of saturated fats and increasing our consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and monounsaturated fats.
Here are other heart-healthy foods that we can add to your diet:
Berries are chock full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants that protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease. Snack on cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to heart health. They may help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of metabolic syndrome.
According to studies, fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eating them over the long term was linked to lower levels of total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, fasting blood sugar and systolic blood pressure.
Nuts, including walnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds, contain good-for-your-heart fiber and some of them have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Dark beans like black and kidney beans have high amounts of vitamin B6, folate, fiber, and potassium. They also have phytonutrients like saponins and quercetin which play an important role in our heart health. Aside from this, dark beans are cholesterol-free, thus making them greater heart-healthy food.
Oranges and grapefruits have high amounts of flavonoids which are capable of lowering the risk of ischemic stroke by 19%, according to a 2012 study. The vitamin C content of citrus fruits was also linked to a lowered chance of getting heart diseases.
High amounts of heart-healthy potassium are found in tomatoes. They also have antioxidant lycopene that keeps blood vessels open and lowers heart attack risk.
Spinach is one of the best heart-healthy foods. They are rich in omega-3s, antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.
It’s always better to opt for fresh foods instead of processed ones. It will improve our health, increase nutrient and flavor profiles, and are cheaper. Meanwhile, processed items contain additives, flavorings, coloring, added sugar, sodium, and preservatives that can have negative effects on our health.