What’s the world’s greatest killer – war, poverty, famine, cancer, HIV, ebola? Nope, it’s actually heart disease!
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Changing your diet is one of the easiest routes to a healthier heart, and there are plenty of everyday foods you can start eating now for better heart health.
Recommended reading: Looking After Your Heart
People have known for centuries that fish is a vital part of a healthy diet, with it’s high protein content making it an effective appetite suppressant. Fish isn’t only brilliant for your waistline, though, the omega-3 fatty acids found in many types make it great for your heart too.
There is a wealth of evidence supporting the link between a strong heart and omega-3 fatty acids – they reduce the risk of heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and lower your blood pressure. Some of the best fish for getting your omega-3 fatty acids are trout, salmon, and tuna.
Orange and yellow veg
Hoping to add a little color to your heart and diet? Well, orange and yellow vegetables don’t only make your dinner plate gleam, they’re also loaded with fiber, carotenoids, and vitamins that boost your heart.
While there are many different orange and yellow vegetables you can pick from, the ones you want to look out for are carrots, peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and acorn squashes. Along with helping to give you a stronger heart, orange and yellow vegetables can help lower the risk of you getting cancer. Why? Because they contain phytonutrients, which can reduce the threat of cancer by as much as 40%!
You and I both know that chocolate is one of the best foods for a healthy soul, but what about your heart? The great news is that dark chocolate contains flavonoids (particularly flavanol) antioxidants which have been proven to help look after your heart.
Flavanols have been shown to lower the threat of coronary heart disease if you eat dark chocolate five times a week, along with reducing blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. However, for your heart to get the full benefit of flavanols, you need to buy dark chocolate that has 70% cocoa or higher.
Avocado hand is a millennial curse, but do the benefits to your heart outweigh the risks to your fingers? Yes, absolutely. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats (the good type of fat), which helps to lower your cholesterol and protect you against the risk of heart disease.
Along with good fats, avocados are full of potassium, one of the most important nutrients for your heart because it plays a part in every single beat your heart makes. An average avocado contains just under 1000 mg of potassium, which is around 28% of the potassium you need each day – so all you need is 3 and a quarter avocados a day!
Whether it’s wheat, oats, rice or pasta, refined foods aren’t as good for you as whole grains – refining grains reduces the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content, leaving high-carb starch that can pile on the pounds. But that’s not all – the high fiber content in whole grains reduce your chances of heart disease by 22%, so by going refined you lose the health benefits from eating grain.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as unrefined flour, oats, or pasta. All of these foods and more were produced with the whole grain, retaining their endosperm, germ, and bran, and keeping all of their goodness. However, everything changed at the end of the 19th Century, with the invention of the steel roller mill making it possible to separate the endosperm, thus inventing refined bread and splitting grains into good and bad.
Dense in nutrients, rich in minerals, and full of vitamins, almonds are overloaded with things that help you look after your heart. If that wasn’t enough, almonds are also high in fiber and monounsaturated fats, each of which can reduce the threat of heart disease.
Studies into the heart health benefits of almonds have shown that eating almonds lowers the cholesterol in your body, along with reducing belly fat – both of which can cause heart disease. While almonds are great for your heart, remember that they have a high number of calories – so if you eat too many they can make you put on weight.
Heart disease is the biggest cause of death in the U.S. — accounting for nearly a quarter of all deaths. While some of these deaths come from smoking, many are not and could be prevented by people taking some simple steps to give themselves a healthier heart. By changing your diet today and adding fish, orange and yellow veg, dark chocolate, avocados, whole grains, and almonds to it, you’ll reduce your chances of heart disease and increase the likelihood of you living to a ripe old age.