Five types of heart healthy foods

There are plenty of heart healthy foods that you can eat every day. All the foods good for the heart, contain some vitamins and minerals but their real power comes from other phytonutrients.

While some heart foods are rich in fiber and phytosterols, others are great source of healthy fats and carbohydrates.

On the other hand, foods for the heart also contain antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids and other heart healthy phytochemicals. If you want to get the most from them, you should eat a little bit of everything.

LIST OF HEART HEALTHY FOODS

BASKET 1

Berries have very high ORAC value which makes them the most powerful antioxidant food. The color of the food tells you a lot about its chemical compounds. Usually, the darker the color of the berry, the stronger its antioxidant potential.

Since the world of berries is so colorful and rich in various phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, it would be wise to include at least some of them into your diet.

Blueberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Gooseberries and even superberries are just some of them.

Raisins, Pineapple and Papaya cubes. Raisins are rich in antioxidants which have shown to be helpful in preventing gum disease which is associated with heart disease.

On the other hand, papaya and pineapple are unique type of fruits which are rich in enzymes such as papain and bromelian. These two enzymes have shown useful in treating inflammation, digestive problems as well as heart disease.

These three heart healthy foods can be bought in most supermarkets as a bulk food. Combining them together is a great idea for healthy snacks.

Citrus Fruits are a great source of vitamin C and flavonoids such as hesperidin, naringenin and tangeritin. These flavonoids can potentially improve the condition of blood vessels. Citrus fruits have also shown very effective in preventing and treating kidney stones thereby preventing kidney damage.

Since kidneys play a key role in regulating blood pressure, it would be smart to consume at least some of these heart healthy foods, few times per week.

The best known citrus fruits are the oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes which are a great source of citrus bioflavonoids.

Watch out for grapefruits since it contains dihydroxybergamottin, a flavonoid which can increase the effect and blood levels of all drugs, hormones and supplements.

Apples or Pears, Pomegranates, Carrots, Kiwis and Bananas. Diversity of these heart foods and their colors, is great for the cardiovascular system. All of them are also rich in fiber and easily obtainable.

On the other hand, they are great food sources of potassium which can lower high blood pressure.

Enjoy in these heart healthy foods inbetween main meals, by mixing them together. Kiwis and especially pomegranates, offer the most benefits. 

BASKET 2

Whole grain bread. Switching from white bread to whole grain bread can have big positive effect on your health. Whole grain bread is a great source of healthy complex carbs as well as fiber. Since it is made from flaxseeds, besides other grains, it also contains healthy fats.

Whole grain bread is a great source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen which can reduce the risk of several cancers as well as heart disease.

Brown rice is another source of healthy complex carbs and fiber. It is much more nutritionally 'dense' as opposed to processed white rice.

Only brown rice contains chemicals which can inhibit angiotensin II and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack and high blood pressure.

Sweet potatoes(low GI) is a healthier version of regular white potato. Sweet potato contains complex carbs, plenty of nutrients as well as carotenoids and fiber. White potato(high GI) is also good but if you can, rather go with the first one.

Oatmeal. Oats are another great heart healthy foods which contain slow-digesting complex carbs as well as soluble fibre. One type of soluble fiber, known as beta glucan, can lower LDL cholesterol and boost immune system.

Oats are good source of protein among cereals and they also contain some fat which is all good.

Popcorns are really a perfect snack food, besides fruits. They are high in fiber and low in calories but they also contain complex, slow digesting carbs, proteins as well as healthy fats.

Scientist say that these foods for the heart have surprisingly high polyphenol content, a type of antioxidant which is usually found in fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to this kind of heart healthy foods, cook them in some healthy oil such as olive oil. Don't put too much salt on them and avoid toppings such as butter or margarine. Instead, sprinkle some ginger and cinnamon on top.

Legumes such as beans and lentils are a great vegetarian source of proteins but they also contain complex carbohydrates, plenty of fiber and very little dietary fat.

Legumes are great source of phytoestrogens such as daidzein, genistein and coumestans. Although phytoestrogens can reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes, too much phytoestrogens can sometimes be a bad thing.

BASKET 3

Nuts and Almonds. Walnuts, peanuts, almonds as well as pistachios and Brazil nuts, belong to the group of foods good for the heart which are great source of healthy fats.

They can lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack. On top of that, nuts and almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients.

Moderation is the key, you don't need to eat a bunch of these heart foods, a handful of them every day or two, is enough.

Fish. Tuna, salmon, and sardines are all great heart healthy foods which contain omega 3 fatty acids.

Eating fish on regular basis can reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack as well as arrhythmia.

Olive oil is another great source of healthy fats. Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is one of the main ingredients on mediterranean diet menu.

It is also rich in polyphenols, especially oleuropein which is one of the phytochemicals responsible for most of olive oil's benefits. Just pour some olive oil over your heart healthy foods.

BASKET 4

Tea is very rich in antioxidants and flavonoids but the strongest one of them is green tea. Green tea has the greatest amount of Epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCg) which is a type of phenol.

It may improve our immune system, prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Red wine is another great source of antioxidants such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, especially oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). OPCs are also found in hawthorn berries which is the strongest heart herb.

On the other hand, resveratrol is also a natural aromatase inhibitor which prevents testosterone from converting to estrogen.

French people have tradition of drinking a glass or two of red wine, with lunch, thereby getting all the benefits of resveratrol, throughout the year. Scientists believe these is the reason why they have low rate of heart disease, dispite their high-fat diets.

Dark chocolate. Chocolate is made from cocoa or cacao bean. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of cocoa antioxidants and alkaloids such as epicatechin and theobrominea.

These chemicals are the reason why dark chocolate is one of the best heart healthy foods which can potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular related problems and diabetes, while improving cognitive function.

Moderation is the key, since high intake of chocolate can have opposite effect.

BASKET 5

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, turnip greens and cabbage contain plenty of fiber, very little calories and no fat.

They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K which is essential for coagulation. However, their real power of these foods good for the heart, comes from two powerfull antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids which are important for cancer prevention, healthy vision and cardiovascular system function.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and radish are the healthiest types of veggies. Although these heart healthy foods are rich in fiber, they also contain unique type of phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, diindolylmethane or DIM and calcium D-Glucarate.

These chemicals help the body establish healthy hormonal balance between sex hormones and detoxify toxins such as xenoestrogens.

However, cruciferous vegetables can interfere with the formation of thyroid hormones, causing goiter. For that reason eat these heart foods two - three times per week.

You may also want to know how to cook cruciferous vegetables, in order to prevent goiter and still preserve all the nutrients from these super-veggies.

Tomatoes or Ketchup. Tomatoes and tomato products such as ketchup are a great source of lycopene which is a type of carotenoid and a powerfull antioxidant.

Lycopene has been shown useful in preventing and treating some forms of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis as well as heart disease.

White button mushroom. Mushrooms are very powerful and unique natural remedies. They are mostly used to improve immune system but can also be useful in preventing heart disease.

White button mushrooms contain several antioxidants and immune system boosting chemicals. It can lower high estrogen which makes it useful, alongside red wine, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and green tea, in treating and preventing heart disease as well as cancer.

TIPS

Eating all these types of foods good for the heart in one day, every day, is impossible but luckily for us that is not necessary. Instead, include as much of these heart healthy foods into your weekly eating schedule.

Try to eat one or two types of these heart foods, from BASKET 1 - BASKET 5, every day but let your food choices change every now and then.

If you are interested in growing your own healthy foods, check Karen's vegetable gardening methods

CONCLUSION

Try to consume these foods for the heart as fresh as possible. Eat them whole, instead of squeezing them into the juice.

Although most of these heart healthy foods are weak protein sources, don't neglect that macronutrient since protein is necessary for normal function of the human body, including the heart muscle. Low fat, high protein animal foods and vegetable proteins are both great sources of this important nutrient.

There are also few tips which can help you save some money, while buying these heart healthy foods. They helped me a lot. 





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