Tomatoes in a bowlFirst, the bad news – heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death in the US. It affects people across ethnicity and race and kills more people nationally than even cancer!

The great news is that studies have demonstrated that close to 70% of new heart disease cases could be prevented by making changes in what you eat.

Don’t worry, though! Eating heart healthy isn’t annoying and doesn’t limit your food choices to bland and tasteless meals. Let’s take a look at ten delicious and heart healthy foods that you can add to your diet right away to keep your ticker ticking for the long haul.

Red Wine

Yes, you read that right; red wine is a heart healthy addition to your diet – didn’t I say that eating heart healthy isn’t annoying?

According to studies, red wine is packed with a variety of healthy substances that will keep your heart happy. Red wine has an incredible compound called resveratrol that has shown to be effective against the majority of degenerative and cardiovascular diseases from

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Ischemia/Reperfusion
  • Heart Failure
  • Diabetes,
  • Obesity
  • Aging

But, what about alcohol – isn’t that supposed to be bad for you? Yes, if you’re regularly consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages; you’ll be putting yourself at risk for a laundry list of health problems.

The real question is the dose. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption has a protective effect on your heart. As with anything else in life; moderation is the key.

Coffee

A coffee cup with coffee beans spilling out In today’s health conscious world, we’re all preoccupied with the possible damage anything we eat or drink can do to our health, and coffee has been blamed for a host of ills from high blood pressure to cancer.

It’s pretty much nonsense.

Enjoy your java knowing that coffee has been shown to improve your circulation and reduce the incidence of heart trouble. Research published in Current Cardiology Reports demonstrates that the caffeine in your cup of Joe has a real effect on blood flow. The researchers discovered that blood flow in the smaller blood vessels increased by almost one-third among the test-subjects who drank caffeinated coffee.

Coffee has been shown to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other forms of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate

The good news keeps coming! Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a plant based compound that has demonstrated effects on cardiovascular health. While exactly how chocolate flavonoids help your heart isn’t known; the theory is that this compound acts as a powerful antioxidant that maintains circulatory health and helps prevent conditions such as arteriosclerosis from becoming an issue.

Avocado

The avocado isn’t just delicious; this fruit (not a vegetable!) is chock full of healthy fats that enhance not only heart – but whole body health.

Avocados are brimming with the monounsaturated fats that may significantly reduce heart disease risk factors like cholesterol. Avocados are also rich in potassium and antioxidants, which provide a range of health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It’s what makes a salad worth eating. There’s no need to feel guilty about dripping this golden oil over your greens because science has discovered that extra virgin olive oil has extra heart health benefits.

Olive oil is mostly composed of monounsaturated fatty acids, the most important of which is oleic acid. Oleic acid has been proven to be extremely an extremely heart-healthy fat.
Most importantly, diets high in extra virgin olive oil, including the Mediterranean diet, have demonstrated a lower incidence of

  • Atherosclerosis,
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Certain cancers

Tomatoes

It’s all about a substance called lycopene.

Lycopene is a form of carotenoid (vegetable) vitamin A that creates the red color we associate with this delicious food. It’s also found in pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava, and other fruits (yes, tomatoes are a fruit).

Research has shown that lycopene can reduce oxidized LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and reduce the markers of systemic inflammation (inflammation can damage blood vessels).

Consuming tomatoes and tomato products also has the effect of modestly lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.

Salmon

Salmon plated with a small side saladSalmon isn’t just the tastiest fish you can enjoy – this oily fish will also keep you healthy for the long-term. Salmon is rich in an essential fat called omega-3; omega-3s are fats we can’t produce in our own bodies and need to include in our diet for optimal health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of unsaturated fatty acid that could reduce levels of inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation in your body can cause damage to your blood vessels and consequently lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Researchers have consistently demonstrated that increased consumption of omega-3 fats has heart protective effects.

Nuts

Nuts are a healthy addition to any diet. They’re full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs.

A team of researchers discovered that in a study of over 200,000 people worldwide, those who routinely ate both peanuts (a legume) and other nuts were significantly less likely to have died of any cause, including heart disease, than those who rarely or never ate nuts.

Keep in mind that peanuts have been shown to have the same effect! While price may be a limiting factor for many people who would like to add nuts to their diet for health; peanuts are a cheaper and equally effective alternative.

Legumes

People who eat legumes have a much lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. But, what is a legume?

A good rule of thumb is that while not all legumes are beans, all beans are legumes. A couple of exceptions are peanuts and alfalfa.

Medical research indicates that eating between one-half to two cups of cooked legumes a day could reduce heart disease risk by:

  • Lowering LDL cholesterol
  • Increasing HDL cholesterol
  • Reducing your blood pressure
  • Helping to maintain a healthy blood glucose level

Green Vegetables

Hearth Healthy Tomatoes in a jarThe health benefits of eating green vegetables are incredible. The consumption of green vegetables has repeatedly been shown to have not only a heart protective effect – but also a role in preventing a host of maladies; from stroke to cancer, people who consumed more green vegetables showed a reduction in the incidence of a plethora of health problems.

From vitamin C to a broad range of flavonoids and natural chemical compounds; green vegetables are tasty and nutritional powerhouses to maintain your health.

Eating Heart Healthy Tastes Good!

There you have it! The ten tastiest ways to be heart healthy.

Not only is eating heart healthy the smartest thing you can do for yourself, but it’s also an excuse to eat and drink some of the most enjoyable foods you can throw in your shopping cart.

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George Citroner

GW Citroner is a Hudson Valley, NY based writer whose work has appeared in over 20 publications and on an incredible range of Health & Wellness topics.

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