Here is a sobering statistic: every 37 seconds, another American dies from cardiovascular disease. That adds up to 647,000 deaths annually. The total cost of heart disease in the U.S. is a whopping $219 billion.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems. Exercising, getting adequate sleep, limiting alcohol, and not smoking cigarettes are all important to heart health. The food you choose matters, too. Here’s a shortlist of things to eat that can help you stay in tip-top shape!
1. Go for the Gusto with Greens
Grandma was right — vegetables are incredibly good for you, and the leafy green varieties are especially wholesome. Spinach, collards, turnip greens, kale, and some varieties of lettuce are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Dietary nitrates found in leafy greens are proven to lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel cell function. These veg are also chock-full of vitamin K, which helps your blood to clot and protects your arteries.
Can’t handle the bitter taste? Add raw spinach to a smoothie, make kale chips, or sneak greens into soups like minestrone.
2. Whole Grains Are Great for the Heart
Choose whole grains over white-flour pieces of bread and pastas. Eating complex rather than carbohydrates offers some convincing benefits. One analysis of 45 studies discovered that adding whole grains to one’s diet resulted in a 22% lower risk of heart disease.
Brown rice is a better choice than white, and you can make a hearty pilaf or buddha bowl with quinoa, farro, barley, or wheat berries. Be skeptical of pieces of bread labeled “multigrain.” Instead, check the ingredient list for “whole grains” or “whole wheat.”
3. Fit Some Fish Into Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are fantastic for heart health. They lower blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and cholesterol. Certain types of fish — tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel — are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Do your best to work these into your weekly meal plans.
Looking for a budget-conscious way to enjoy fatty fish? Try canned salmon, made into delicate patties and baked. Serve over a big salad for a double dose of heart-healthy deliciousness.
4. Dark Chocolate Does a Heart Good
Are you a chocoholic? Good news — your intake of dark chocolate is actually smart! It contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which are associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Just don’t go overboard — chocolate still contains a lot of calories and sugar. Also, choose one with 70% or more cocoa solids. Who knew candy could be as beneficial as top heart failure meds?
5. Beautiful, Bountiful Beans
There’s a reason so many cuisines rely on the staple combination of rice and beans. They are delicious, inexpensive, easy to cook, and high in fiber. In addition, research has found beans to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Multiple studies show that they lower many of the risk factors for heart disease.
Whip up a hearty, spicy black bean soup. Whiz cooked pintos into a delicious dip for baked tortilla chips. Or toss a handful of chickpeas into your salad.
Heart Healthy Things to Eat Are Easy to Find
Some of the best foods to eat for heart health are easy to find and cook. Make a big pot of beans, serve a salad and whole-grain bread alongside them, and treat yourself to dark chocolate for dessert.
Now that you know what things to eat to help your cardiovascular system stay healthy while also satisfying your appetite, why not read more informative articles? Browse our lifestyle content and learn something new!