Are you in search of foods that are healthy for the heart? Read the article below to know about them in detail.
In the last few decades, heart diseases like atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and stroke have increased in their count exponentially all around the globe. As per the American Public Health Association, a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a poor diet is responsible for the majority of heart diseases worldwide. Stressed and busy schedules tend people to incline toward junk food and processed food, which are otherwise hazardous for their health, particularly heart health.
Scientific studies have built a stronger link between the diet taken and the occurrence of heart diseases. Incorporating healthy foods and regular workout sessions into the routine help a long way in preventing heart diseases. There is a wide range of food items that are specifically good for the heart. These foods are called heart-healthy foods. Having foods in their natural or organic form is the healthiest way to consume them. This is known as a ‘whole-food diet.’ Such a diet includes heart-healthy foods like nuts, whole grains, olive oil, vegetables, and fruits. Besides these, occasionally a glass of red wine or a piece of dark chocolate can also be consumed for keeping the heart healthy.
When the health of the heart is concerned, the foods that are consumed holds a great importance. The below-mentioned tips can be followed for heart-healthy eating:
Eating less saturated fat and avoiding trans fat.
Cutting back on fat-containing meats and high-fat dairy products.
Limiting processed foods like pizza, burgers, creamy sauces, etc.
Reducing the amount of sodium (salt) in the diet.
Including liquid non-tropical vegetable oils like olive oil, soybean oil, etc.
Minimizing intake of added sugars into the diet.
Restricting or avoiding alcohol intake.
Getting more fiber and including vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to the diet.
Having fruits and vegetables as fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
Including more fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots.
Having leafy green vegetables as salads, like Romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale.
Canned vegetables, low in sodium content should be chosen.
Frozen vegetables, without additives like butter or sauces should be bought.
Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, guavas, etc. should be consumed.
Canned, frozen, or dried fruits without added sugars are healthy.
Healthiest way is to have seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Choosing fat-free or low-fat foods, that include:
Fat-free or low-fat milk, up to 1 %.
Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt.
Fat-free or low-fat cheese, cottage cheese.
Soy milk with additives like calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
Having products that contain 100 % whole grain, like:
Whole-grain bread, bagels, tortillas, etc.
Whole-grain breakfast cereals like oatmeal or shredded wheat.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or oats.
Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta, etc.
Protein-rich foods should be majorly eaten, such as:
Marine foods like fish, shellfish, etc.
Poultry, having lean ground chicken or turkey, at least 93 % lean like chicken or turkey breast without skin.
Lean meats (at least 93 % lean) such as pork shoulder, lean ground beef, etc.
Beans, peas, and lentils like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.
Unsalted butters, like almond or peanut butter; nuts and seeds too.
Replacing saturated fat with healthier unsaturated fats like seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils. Include these healthy swaps:
Vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower) instead of butter or refined oil for cooking.
Low-fat mayonnaise instead of full-fat mayonnaise.
Oil-based salad dressings like balsamic vinaigrette or Italian instead of creamy dressings like ranch.
Vegetable oils are usually healthy choices, yet avoiding coconut and palm oils, that are high in saturated fat. Having margarine and other soft spreads have less saturated fat than butter.
There are certain food items that are distinctly beneficial for the health of the heart. They are as follows:
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout.
Nuts such as almonds or walnuts in small quantities that satisfy hunger and help the heart.
Berries, as they contain heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. These include blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
Seeds, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. that contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and phytoestrogens and enhance heart health.
Oats contain an abundance of nutrients, besides protein and fiber, and are regarded as a ‘nutrient powerhouse.’
Legumes that include dried beans and lentils like garbanzo, pinto, kidney, or black beans. These are high in fiber, vitamin B complex, minerals, etc.
Red wine improves good (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body. Up to two glasses of four ounces for men and one for women per day can be consumed.
Soy, edamame beans, or marinated tofu can be eaten for heart-healthy meals.
Veggies of different colors like red, yellow, and orange such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, etc. are full of carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins that boost heart health.
Green veggies particularly; spinach, kale are a pack of healthy nutrients. Broccoli and asparagus comprise vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber.
Fruits, like oranges, and papaya are filled with beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Dark chocolate is especially good for the heart. The higher the quantity of cocoa, the healthier it is. The fiber and protein amounts increase with increase in cocoa percentage and the sugar content decreases.
Green tea consumption boosts heart health as it brims with antioxidants like polyphenols and catechins. It also prevents damage to the cells and decreases cell inflammation.
Heart-healthy foods are a part of a healthy diet that particularly have effects on the functioning of the heart. Such foods are easily available all around us and can be simply swapped with unhealthy food options. It is essential to incorporate them into the diet as early as possible, after gathering the right information about them. As the heart is one of the vital organs of the body, a heart-healthy diet should be followed strictly to minimize the chances of developing heart diseases.
Last reviewed at:
07 May 2022 - 4 min read
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