Whether you’re currently concerned about your risk factor for heart disease or you are simply looking to ensure you are keeping your body in optimal health, paying attention to the foods that will best help you maximize your heart’s function is important. Every year millions of people worldwide die from heart related conditions and many of these conditions are largely preventable simply by taking steps to manage your diet. The foods you eat will either increase your heart health or can quickly take away from your heart health picture.
Wondering which foods are best? While most people are well aware of the obvious offenders – deep fried foods, sugary baked goods, or fatty cuts of meat, there are certain foods that tend to pack an extra punch as far as heart health goes. Think of these as foods that possess virtual super powers that will enable you to really kick your health up a notch. Let’s go over some of these foods right now so that you can start including them in your diet plan.
The first heart healthy food to be adding to your diet is olive oil. Olive oil forms the basis for the Mediterranean diet plan, which is one that is well-known to offer great heart health benefits. Olive oil is a healthy form of dietary fat containing primarily unsaturated fatty acids, so it’ll help lower your levels of bad cholesterol while increasing your levels of good. Just do keep in mind that olive oil is very high in calories being an oil so use it in moderation. Any food eaten in abundance can be bad for your heart if it leads to weight gain.
Salmon is another great food for a healthy ticker. This one is rich in protein content, so it’ll help stabilize your blood sugar levels. In addition to that, it’s also going to offer a powerful dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which will help to control insulin sensitivity levels, reducing blood sugar spikes and crashes. When you think insulin sensitivity, you may be fast to think about diabetes prevention and while this is one connection, it isn’t the only one. Each time your blood sugar is rapidly elevated, you’ll be at an increased risk of forming triglycerides in the body, which can go on to cause plaque on your arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.
Next on the list of heart health winners are beans. Chalk full of fiber, these will help lower your cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Beans are the perfect high-energy food to eat before exercise and will help you perform as optimally as possible. By adding them to your diet an hour or so before a workout, you may just find you push harder during that workout, increasing your heart health in the process. Furthermore, beans also contain flavonoids, which are compounds that help to protect the heart and inhibit the adhesion of platelets in the blood stream.
Nuts are another excellent food to get into your plan if you hope to increase your heart health. They’re virtually sugar free, high in fiber, will provide a small dose of both protein as well as healthy fat. Those who regularly include nuts in their diet plan tend to have lower levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in their body and therefore reduce their risk of heart disease. Nuts are also rich in vitamin E, which may help to lower the formation of plaque in the arteries, lowering your risk of coronary artery disease.
When choosing your nuts, if you can, opt for walnuts more often than other nuts. Walnuts possess the healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which were found in salmon as well. While all nuts do contain healthy fats, it’s these fats that are most beneficial.
Apples are the next great heart-health booster to get into your diet plan. Apples are high in pectin, which is a for