If you have a family history of heart disease or have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or bad cholesterol, it’s time to get control of your lifestyle.
In addition to regular exercise, you need to make changes in your diet that can support heart health. Adding certain foods may give you an advantage.
Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and salad greens, are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that can have beneficial impacts on your cardiovascular health. Just one cup of raw leafy greens each day can lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
Leafy greens help your body produce nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels relax, which in turn decreases blood pressure. The soluble fiber also helps to flush toxins from your system and lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels increase your risk of heart problems.
You may have heard that high-fat diets contribute to heart disease, but that’s a false generalization. Saturated fats and trans fats can be harmful, but some fats are healthy. Your body needs healthy fats to help absorb nutrients and support your cell functions.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods like vegetables, fruits, and fish, such as tuna and salmon. Fatty fish contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. People who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of chronic health conditions.
When you want a snack, instead of reaching for chips and sweets, indulge instead in a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and other nuts contain fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, and other micronutrients. Studies have shown that nuts can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 17%.
Salt-free nuts are the best choice since salt is linked to hypertension. Also, while the fats in nuts are healthy, they do tend to be high in calories. Rather than eat unlimited amounts, limit your intake by measuring your servings. Oils and butter made from nuts can also be healthy.
Many people don’t develop heart disease until later in life, but the choices you make today can affect your future. Making changes in your diet is one of the best ways to avoid putting your heart at risk.
Start by replacing unhealthy foods with those proven to be beneficial for your heart.
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