Although heart health risks, including high blood pressure, stroke and high cholesterol, are the top health concern for many people, people still struggle to incorporate “heart-healthy” foods into their diet. For example, while eight out of 10 in the US are aware of the relationship between omega-3s and heart health, less than half (48 percent) of Americans are currently consuming omega-3s for this benefit.
A diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can help reduce your risk for heart disease…think more fruits and vegetables, less burgers and fries…and along with the fruits and veggies…look for while grains and fiber…so we are talking about a diet like the Mediterranean Diet. Foods that promote heart health include:
Nuts: As a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fat, nuts are a powerhouse food that can promote heart health. Almonds and hazelnuts are also high in vitamin E, which helps promote the function of a healthy cardiovascular system.
“Heart Healthy” Fats: Both monounsaturated fat (olive oil, walnuts, avocado) and the Omega 3’s may help promote heart health. Salmon, sardines, herring, trout and tuna are terrific sources of omega-3 fatty acids,as are some eggs.
Soy Protein: Getting your daily protein from soy sources can also help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Look for soy protein in nutrition bars, fortified soy beverages, tofu, soy cheese and edamame or try adding soy protein to your favorite smoothie.
Sterols and Stanols: These plant-based food components help block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. They are found in foods like corn, soy, wheat and some fortified foods like soft table spreads, orange juice and yogurt.
Dark Chocolate: Some dark chocolates can contain helpful components called flavanols. These cocoa-derived flavanols have been shown to help support the cardiovascular system, which helps move blood to and from the heart. When included in moderation, dark chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
Red wine and something in red wine called resveratrol might be heart healthy. The studies supporting red wine suggest antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids.
Flavonoids. These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including oranges, grape juice, apples, onions, tea and cocoa. Other types of alcohol, such as white wine and beer, contain small amounts, too, but red wine has higher levels.These are just a few of the many healthful foods and food components that can promote heart health.
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