What Foods Are Beneficial for a Heart Healthy Diet?

Heart disease and high blood pressure both impact health and can shorten your lifespan. It is important to manage any heart dysfunction, and diet can be a good way to ensure you have a healthy heart.

  1. D.A.S.H.

    • If your blood pressure exceeds 120/80, you are in danger of complications from high blood pressure. The D.A.S.H. diet is popular for lowering blood pressure. D.A.S.H. is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The D.A.S.H. diet includes lean protein and dairy sources while emphasizing vegetables, whole grains and fish. It minimizes the intake of fats, sweets and sodium. People following D.A.S.H. guidelines consume a diet rich in potassium, fiber, calcium and magnesium, all of which help lower blood pressure.

    Olive Oil

    • Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that resists oxidation from free radicals, so it is less likely to cause cholesterol to stick to arterial walls, making it a healthy alternative to butter or shortening. People who consume olive oil as their primary fat source have lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, colon cancer, diabetes and asthma. A study published in Clinical Cardiology revealed that participants who used olive oil as their only fat had up to a 50 percent reduction in the occurrence of heart disease.

    Soy

    • Soy products contain isoflavones, including genistein. A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology revealed genistein can reduce body weight by inhibiting the production of fat cells and shrinking those we already have. Leaner body mass is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Soy can also lower cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure levels by inhibiting the production of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, while raising the levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol.

    Fruits and Vegetables

    • Most fruits and vegetables contain high levels of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants that inhibit the damage caused by free radicals. The healthiest choices are fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and veggies are a good alternative. In canned fruits and vegetables, look for lower sodium levels in vegetables and natural syrup packaging in fruits. Always rinse canned fruits and vegetables to remove excess sodium and sugar.

    Whole Grains

    • Whole grains are an essential component of good heart health. In addition to being a good source of fiber, whole grains contain several minerals and vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium, all of which help to regulate blood pressure and protect the heart.

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