With cardiovascular diseases among the top causes of death in the U.S., it is extremely important to maintain your heart’s health through proper diet, exercise, and smart lifestyle choices like refraining from smoking or overindulging in alcohol. While most people should be aware that diet is an important part of maintaining their overall health, many people still have questions about what a “healthy diet” actually means. Below, we have identified the top ten most beneficial foods for maintaining your cardiovascular health.
You can cut your risk of heart disease in half by eating as little as five ounces of walnuts per week. Walnuts contain plenty of beneficial monounsaturated and omega-3 fats that can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.
Eating two 3.5-ounce servings a week of oily fish like salmon can help lower your level of triglycerides, a type of fat that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Salmon also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are praised for their anti-clotting properties.
The creamy texture of avocados comes from “good” monounsaturated fats, which can lower your cholesterol. Avocados also have an anti-inflammatory effect and make a great spread that can substitute for butter. Just remember to limit portions, as avocados are high in calories.
4. Fat-free or low-fat yogurt and milk
Dairy products like yogurt and milk contain high amounts of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. They are also low in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol.
Not only do berries contain plenty of nutrients and fiber, but they also contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which aid in the removal of damaging free-radicals in the body.
Lentils, chickpeas, and other types of beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which is important for lowering LDL cholesterol. Make sure to choose no-salt-added or low-sodium varieties if you choose to purchase canned beans, however, to prevent a spike in blood pressure.
7. Olive oil
Olive oil is a great way to limit your intake of saturated fat. It contains beneficial fatty acids and is loaded with antioxidants, which can help keep bad cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls.
8. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which can help prevent blood clots from forming and can lower your blood pressure. It is also high in antioxidants. Choose varieties with 70 percent or more cacao to reap the full benefit of the flavanols without all of the added sugar.
9. Red grapes
Red grapes are filled with resveratrol, a compound that can help prevent blood clots. Drinking red wine in moderation may have some heart health benefits.
Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can help lower your bad cholesterol.
Not all fats are bad. Rather, by eating the right types of fats along with a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, you can take proactive steps towards a happier and healthier future.
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