Show your heart some love by eating foods that will keep it healthy. Heart disease is brought on by a number of health factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inflammation. By eating foods that reduce these harmful conditions, the risk of heart disease is also lowered.
Eating cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts and cabbage will produce a broad range of health benefits. Besides being anticancer, studies have show that eating these vegetables daily results in improved arterial health and significantly reduces your risk of heart disease. Because they are high in fiber, they help fight high cholesterol as well as promoting a healthy gut microbiome, both of which are important for heart health.
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid which belongs to a class of high antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants fight the free radicals (unstable molecules) and inflammation that damage your cells. Recent research shows that anthocyanins, which are most easily identified by their natural deep red, blue and purple colors, also reduce heart disease risk significantly. Although the list of options is long, some of the most common foods that you should eat daily include blueberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, eggplant, pomegranates, red cabbage, red onions and red grapes.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain vitamin K to protect your arteries and help your blood clot properly. They are also an excellent source of dietary nitrates which help relax and widen your blood vessels to improve blood flow, reducing blood pressure and making your arteries less stiff and preventing the buildup of plaque. (Vegetables nitrates are not the same as the cancer-causing nitrates added to certain processed foods). Studies show that increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables decreases your risk of heart disease.
Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Fats
Nuts like almonds and walnuts, as well as avocados, olive oil, and chia, hemp and flax seeds all contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats that lead to lower cholesterol levels and reduced risk of heart disease. They also contain heart-healthy minerals like magnesium and potassium.
Does anything say love better than chocolate? Dark chocolate (with a cocoa content of at least 70%) is high in antioxidant flavonoids, which are beneficial nutrients found in plants. Enjoy an ounce of chocolate daily and let every day be Valentine’s Day for your heart!