15 Heart Healthy Foods

Some foods are considered to be super-foods because they pack a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals and nutrients all packed into one food source. That describes superfoods which are vibrant, nutritionally dense foods. Superfoods provide tremendous benefits for the body. They contain protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients. There are many foods that are considered to be superfoods so there is a tremendous variety to choose from. Furthermore, they are widely available. They all have one important trait in that they all are shown to optimize the function of the body’s systems and to to promote overall health and wellness.

1.Tomatoes are an excellent and effective food for lowering blood pressure. This is because they contain lycopene. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in high concentrations in tomatoes. Tomatoes also contain other powerful antioxidants which are one of the reasons tomatoes are a star in the prevention of heart disease. Tomatoes can even help prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing which causes it to stick to the arteries and narrow the passage which can cause blood pressure to rise. Tomatoes are easily added to fresh salads.

2. Apples are in a class by themselves. We’ve all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. There is a very good reason for this. Those that regularly consume apples have a lower risk of suffering heart disease and strokes compared with non-apple eaters. Apples are rich in antioxidants. The many compounds found in apples all play an important role in protecting the cardiovascular system. Apples are also rich in pectin and a good source of vitamin C. The powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals in apples help to reduce damage caused by free radicals. This helps to reduce the incidents of heart disease.

3. Bananas are rich in potassium. Potassium is an important mineral which helps to maintain normal heart function as well as balance the sodium and water in the body. Potassium helps the kidneys excrete excess sodium, which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Bananas which are extremely high in potassium and very low in sodium is why they have the perfect ratio for preventing high blood pressure and stroke.

4. Asparagus
is also a powerhouse vegetable. This extremely healthy vegetable contains significant amounts of folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Asparagus is also rich in potassium and fiber. Asparagus is great eaten lightly steamed and adding seasonings of your choice.

5. Seafood is high in omega 3 oil, monounsaturated fats and calcium. These are all nutrients that help in reducing the risk of heart attack and managing high blood pressure. Clams, salmon, pollock, tuna, herring, swordfish and mackerel are all good choices in helping to manage cholesterol levels which can reduce the risk of a heart attack. It is important to bake or broil the fish for best results.

6. Broccoli is another powerhouse vegetable Broccoli contains vitamins C and E, calcium, fiber, folate and beta-carotene. However, like spinach, broccoli is another natural source of CoQ10. Broccoli should be eaten raw or steamed to retain the highest concentration of nutrients.

7. Whole Grains contain antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols which are protective against coronary disease. Whole grains are also an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Soluble fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oatmeal, barley, quinoa, lentils, beans and apples.

8. Chocolate is a superfood with a host of benefits for the cardiovascular system. This does not mean your favorite milk chocolate bar. Choose dark chocolate, preferably one that’s 70% cocoa solids. Chocolate is a superfood with a host of benefits for the cardiovascular system. Flavanols in dark chocolate helps to preserve the function of blood vessels thereby lowering the risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Cocoa also contains epicatechin which boosts nitric oxide which is crucial to healthy blood vessels.

9. Spinach is another powerhouse vegetable which includes many heart-healthy compounds. Included are potassium, folate, calcium, nitrate, betaine and carotenoid lutein. Also spinach contains CoQ10 which is essential for heart and muscle.

10. Berries
contain a diverse range of nutrients. Strawberries, red raspberries, blueberries, bilberries, lingonberries, chokeberries and black currents provide a wide range of plant compounds. These little berries pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrients. They can improve cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

11. Pomegranate is fruit which packs a powerful punch of polyphenols and tannins. It has been shown to help reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries and also to lower blood pressure. Pomegranate juice has been shown to have the highest antioxidant levels when compared to blueberry juice, cranberry juice and red wine.

12. Nuts
are a great source of healthful proteins, vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Eat them raw for best results and avoid the cooked, salted varieties. Choose a variety of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios are all good choices. Pistachios in particularly are excellent sources of copper, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Arginine is an important amino acid found in pistachios which benefits those suffering from angina.

13. Green Tea
contains antioxidants called catechins. Drink 12 or more ounces of tea each day to prevent your risk of heart attack.

14. Wine
is thought to protect the heart by raising good HDL cholesterol and decreasing inflammation in the blood. Green tea thins the blood which prevents clots from forming and protects the heart.

15. Garlic
helps maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and helps prevent atherosclerosis. Use fresh or freshly crushed garlic if possible. Garlic can also be consumed in fermented form, garlic oil and garlic supplements. Aged garlic supplements are easily available and don’t have an odor like fresh garlic.