Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, so a healthy heart is essential for a long and active life. But how do you protect and maintain your heart’s health?
Well, one of the most significant steps is paying attention to your food and eating more heart-healthy foods – which leads us to today’s questions: what are heart-healthy foods and what is the best food for a healthy heart?
There are many heart-friendly foods that you can include in your diet to improve your overall heart health, and you probably already eat a few of them.
So, in this article, we’ll answer questions such as “what are heart-healthy foods?” and explore the best heart-healthy foods to enjoy this year, including those specifically beneficial for men.
What Are Heart-Healthy Foods?
Heart-healthy foods are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. These foods can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Let’s look at some of these foods for a healthy heart.
Best Heart-Healthy Foods
Several foods are considered heart-healthy due to their high levels of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help improve heart health.
Here are some of the foods you can include in your diet:
Why is fish considered to be a heart-healthy food? Because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
Omega-3 fatty acids help lower the risks of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels.
Leafy greens contain nutrients and vitamins that help improve heart health. These greens, such as spinach and kale, are high in antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium, which help lower the risk of heart disease.
Leafy greens also help to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve overall heart health. They are also a good source of vitamin K, promoting blood clotting and protecting your arteries.
An analysis of eight studies also found that high leafy green vegetable intake lowers heart disease by up to 16%.
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. They’re also high in vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, which help to regulate blood pressure.
Some of the best whole grains for heart health include the following:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
According to an analysis of multiple studies, whole grains reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 10% to 20% compared to refined carbohydrates, which increase the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, plant-based foods, whole grains, and sodium effectively prevent and manage hypertension.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also high in healthy fats and antioxidants, making them a great addition to your foods for a healthy heart.
Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, while seeds such as chia and flax are high in fiber and antioxidants, both of which also help to improve heart health.
Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, are dense with essential nutrients making them a great addition to this list of foods for a healthy heart. Berries also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation.
Studies show that berries contain high antioxidants such as anthocyanins which protect the body from inflammation and stress that contribute to heart disease.
One great thing about berries is that they are low in calories, and you can munch on them as healthy snacks.
Heart-Healthy Foods for Men
There are many differences between a man and a woman, from psychological differences and social influences to body composition and organs such as the heart. Yes, the heart.
It’s true that both the male and female heart performs the same functions, but not entirely in the same way, which is why certain heart-healthy foods are especially beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease for men.
Here are some heart-friendly foods that are peculiar to men:
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps lower the risk of heart disease. Lycopene has also been shown to help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and improve overall heart health.
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish help to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease, making them an essential addition to a heart-healthy diet for men.
Avocados are high in healthy fats, fiber, and potassium, which are essential for heart health. They also help to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels, making them an excellent choice for men looking to improve their heart health.
Chocolates are heart-friendly foods for men that improve blood flow; Flavanols found in dark chocolate reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels and improve blood circulation in men.
On the other hand, excess chocolate consumption can also lead to weight gain. So, we recommend limiting consumption to 1 ounce a day.
Ginger helps reduce inflammation in the body and also repairs body tissue.
In recent years, this spicy root has been a remedy for various ailments, including reducing nausea, fighting the flu, and aiding digestion.
Gingerol, the main compound found in ginger, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidizing effects, which makes ginger a heart-friendly food men should include in their dishes and diet.
Almonds are high-nutrient and vitamin-dense foods, which makes them one of the best heart-healthy foods. They are also a great source of two heart-protecting nutrients – fats and fiber.
Other Heart-friendly foods men should add to their diet for a healthy heart include:
- Brazil nuts
- Green tea
- Milk and yogurt
- Mixed vegetables
- Soy foods
Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Heart
Incorporating the heart-healthy foods mentioned above into your diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
However, it is also important to limit your intake of foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, sugar, and others that can raise your cholesterol level, as they can defeat your purpose of eating certain foods for a healthy heart in the first place.
Some of the foods that you should limit or avoid include processed foods, fried foods, sweetened beverages, and alcohol.
Drinking alcohol moderately won’t harm your heart, but the high consumption of alcohol is proven to cause several ailments, including heart disease, which is why two drinks or less a day is the CDC’s recommended limit for men.
Craft Medical Takes Care of You and Your Heart
What are heart-healthy foods and what is the best food for a healthy heart? As we’ve explained, they’re basically foods that help protect your heart.
However, there is no single best heart-healthy food. The best approach is to eat a balanced diet that includes varieties of heart-healthy foods while limiting your intake of foods that are high in unhealthy fats and sugar.
Remember, being overweight and excessively stressed can also lead to certain heart diseases, so it is essential to perform routine check-ups to know the state of your heart and overall health.