Diet and exercise play a significant role in heart health and the prevention of heart attack or stroke. While many people are aware that a diet of unhealthy foods can increase the risk of heart disease, there are also certain foods that can help prevent coronary artery disease.
Heart disease results from the buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries, which reduces the supply of blood to the heart. This narrowing of the arteries can lead to a heart attack and stroke and heart disease has been called "the leading cause of death for both men and women" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Here are five foods that are consistently ranked as some of the best for preventing heart disease and promoting heart health:
According to the Mayo Clinic
, "eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack." This is because salmon is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which serve to reduce inflammation not only in blood vessels but also throughout the entire body. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may serve to lower triglycerides and blood pressure.
2. Oatmeal: WebMD
sites a study on the benefits of oatmeal for heart health in which cholesterol-lowering drugs were tested against cholesterol-lowering foods that included oats.
"The results were striking. The diet lowered cholesterol levels about as well as cholesterol drugs." Oatmeal, which is a soluble fiber, is traditionally a breakfast food, but ground oatmeal can be added to a variety of other foods as well. "When you digest fiber, it becomes gooey. Researchers think that when it's in your intestines, it sticks to cholesterol and stops it from being absorbed."
Although nuts have a reputation of being high in fat, some are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that serve to reduce harmful cholesterol and promote heart health. According to a study in Science Daily
, researchers have found that almonds, "significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow."
4. Blueberries and strawberries:
These fruits serve to promote heart health because they are rich in anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. According to Harvard Health
, "A significant study links berry consumption with improved heart health. You can't get the same benefit from a pill or supplement."
5. Extra virgin olive oil:
This oil, which can be used in place of traditional cooking oils as well as in salad dressings, is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which promote heart health. Medical News Today
reports, "older people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing or with bread had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke, compared with their counterparts who never consumed it."
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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