August 23rd, 2018 | Updated on March 6th, 2020
Some foods were found to offer health benefits — but not enough to outweigh their potential risks. Dairy, for example, has been linked to low blood pressure, but is high in saturated fat, meaning it’s best eaten in moderation.
And while numerous studies have linked alcohol to reduced risk of heart disease, drinking can also lead to liver disease and certain cancers.
In fact, certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Here are 17 Superfoods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health.
1. Fresh Herbs
When you add these to foods instead of salt and fat, you’re making a heart-healthy choice. They add flavor without the bad stuff. Spices and other foods are delicious ways to eat heart-smart.
These nuts are full of monounsaturated fat, which helps lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. Plus, monounsaturated fats are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which keeps our immune systems healthy.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises keeping fat consumption to 30 percent of your daily calories, with most coming from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
You can finally rest easy about all that coffee you down each morning, because Freeman’s team found that drinking coffee may help you live longer. In fact, researchers determined that coffee consumption was linked to lower risk of mortality without any risk of heart problems, like hypertension or arrhythmias.
One thing to keep in mind: Loading your java with sugar and cream could diminish coffee’s benefits.
Both black and green tea could reduce risk of heart damage as long as they’re enjoyed without milk, sugar or cream. To reap the most antioxidant benefits, aim to drink 48 ounces of plain green or black tea a day.
5. Black Beans
Mild, tender black beans are packed with heart-healthy nutrients. Folate, antioxidants, and magnesium can help lower blood pressure. Their fiber helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Add beans to boost soups and salads.
6. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function. Studies show that a higher intake of leafy greens is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
7. Whole Grains
Studies show that eating whole grains is associated with lower cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, as well as a lower risk of heart disease.
Berries are rich in antioxidants. Studies show that eating them can reduce multiple risk factors for heart disease.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and potassium. They may help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of metabolic syndrome.
10. Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Fatty fish and fish oil are both high in omega-3 fatty acids and may help reduce heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol.
Studies suggest that walnuts can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Beans are high in resistant starch and have been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation.
13. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants like flavonoids. It has been associated with a lower risk of developing calcified plaque in the arteries and coronary heart disease.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol.
Human and animal studies have found that eating seeds may improve several heart disease risk factors, including inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Garlic and its components have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. They may also help inhibit blood clot formation.
17. Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. It has been associated with lower blood pressure and heart disease risk.
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