The American Heart Association advises to eat a good balance of fiber-rich fruits and vegetable; whole grains; and healthy proteins when it comes to heart health. Examples of healthy proteins are skinless fish and poultry. Recent studies have also found that there are some specific cardiovascular foods are worth putting in your pantry and refrigerator. Here are a few to add to your grocery cart.
In 2019, a study by the AHA’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions found that one can lower blood pressure by eating pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber and many other nutrients, particularly magnesium.
Kate Patton, of the Cleveland Clinic, says “any nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats. For people who don’t eat fish, they are a good way to get in those omega-3 fats.” Patton also advises that you should limit yourself each day to an amount that will fit in the palm of your hand. Nuts are calorie-dense foods. Moderation is key. Walnuts are another nut that, while lowering saturated fats can help in your blood pressure decreasing.
Olives and olive oils
The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil. Olive oil not only boosts good, heart-protective cholesterol but also holds off diabetes and strokes. The University of Minnesota Medical School showed that olive oil my help people live longer.
USDA guidelines recommend 27 grams of olive oil per day (about two tablespoons). Olive oil is very high in calorie intake. As for olives, be sure to buy the low sodium options. Olive oil or pecan oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Brenes-Salazar warns against coconut oil and to stick with olive or pecan oils.
Broccoli and Brussel sprouts
Broccoli and Brussel sprouts are great for cardiovascular health. They are linked to a decline in blood vessel disease. They are high in flavonoids and carotenoids plus cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Others to try are spinach, kale, collard greens, baby greens and Swiss chard. Patton says “three servings a day of dark-green leafy vegetables will reduce your total risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”
A 2020 study by the Harvard Medical School found a link between consuming isoflavone-rich tofu more than once a week could lower the risk of heart disease by 18 percent. Tofu is a substitute for red meat and pork. Tofu also has phytosterols which are plant cholesterols that improve cholesterol in the human body. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend 5-6 ounces of protein a day. Examples are meat, chicken, eggs, fish, soy products or nuts. “When people are heavy meat eaters, they need to slowly find ways to replace the meat with other healthy foods, and tofu is one.” says Kris-Etherton.
Due to their high doses of nitrates, which help keep blood vessels dilated and healthy beets deserve high honors in the vegetable family. A British study done in 2013 showed that simply drinking a cup of beet juice daily significantly lowered blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Colors Mean Something.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are readily available in fruits and veggies that have the color red, orange, or yellow. These pigments are known for their heart-healthy antioxidant properties. Others to try are carrots, acorn squash, cantaloupe, papaya, oranges and sweet potatoes.
The legume family are super healthy because they are packed with plant-based proteins and the kind of fiber that lowers cholesterol and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Garbanzo are full of fiber that will help to lower your bad LDL cholesterol and are a wonderful source of good-quality protein.
Other legumes to try are pinto beans, red beans, kidney beans and black beans. If you get canned beans, remember they can be high in salt so rinse them thoroughly. Dried beans are also an option.
“Oatmeal is a good source of healthy fiber, healthy fats and protein. Soluble fiber is really important for our digestive tract and keeping blood sugar levels stable.” Patton explains. Oatmeal has been known to cut down on cholesterol absorption and contributes to gut health for over half a century. Other options are quinoa, whole grain rices, cereal, or whole grain bread. The label should say “whole grain”.
The AHA has a long standing recommendation to eat fish, especially salmon that is high in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week to hold off the risk of heart failure, stroke and other coronary disease. There is another ingredient in fish that may also help with reducing hypertension-related symptoms called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).
Blueberries are high in soluble fiber and polyphenols and vitamin C. Also try other berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. These alternatives have flavonoids and antioxidants and high amounts of fiber. If you don’t like berries consider red grapes.