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16 foods everyone should eat to protect against cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world. So if there’s any disease you want to prevent, it’s this one.

One of the most common forms of heart disease is atherosclerosis. It occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries. Over time, the arteries become too narrow and blood has a difficult time circulating. Eventually, it can lead to a heart attack, stroke or even death.

So what should you do to reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular disease?

One way is to eat right. Diet and exercise have always played a big part in disease prevention in general and they’re definitely a part of having a healthy heart.

Here are 16 foods that all have all been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

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1. Salmon

Salmon and other fatty fish like sardines and mackerel are really good for the heart because of their high content of omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows that omega-3 can reduce the risk of arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) and atherosclerosis.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains a lot of fiber, which can lower cholesterol levels. According to Dr. Lauren Graf, the oats absorb cholesterol and prevent it from ending up in the blood stream. Whole grains are always preferable, even when it comes to bread and pasta.

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3. Blueberries

Not only blueberries, but also strawberries are good for you. According to a study published by Harvard Health in 2013, women from 25 to 42 are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease if they eat at least three servings of blueberries or strawberries a week.

4. Dark chocolate

Several studies have shown that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

However, the chocolate must contain at least 60 percent cocoa.

5. Citrus

Women who eat large quantities of citrus, such as oranges, lemons or grapefruits reduce their risk of stroke due to a blood clot by 19 percent, reports Science Daily.

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6. Tofu

Tofu and other soy products contain a lot of protein without having a lot of unnecessary fats and cholesterol. People who eat a lot of soy products as a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle can lower their blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, writes Professional Heart Daily.

7. Potatoes

Potatoes may have bad reputation, but in moderation, they’re not dangerous — rather the opposite (as long as they’re not fried).

Potatoes are full of potassium, which lowers blood pressure, writes Harvard Health. They’re also full of fiber, which can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

8. Tomatoes

Like potatoes, tomatoes are full of potassium, and they also contain the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene can help your body get rid of cholesterol, clean your blood vessels and even reduce the risk of heart attack, writes Heart Matters Magazine.

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9. Nuts

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts contain fiber, which is good for your heart, writes Harvard Health. They also contain vitamin E, which helps lower cholesterol levels.

Some also contain omega-3. Be sure to buy nuts that are unsalted and unroasted.

10. Legumes

Legumes include beans, lentils and peas, and they’re full of protein. One study has shown people who eat legumes at least four times a week run a 22 percent lower risk of having cardiovascular disease.

11. Olive oil

In a study conducted on people who are at risk of getting cardiovascular disease, some participants followed a Mediterranean diet. The diet consisted of large amounts of vegetables, fruit and grains. In addition, they ate nuts and at least four tablespoons of olive oil a day.

These people reduced their risk of getting cardiovascular disease by 30 percent.

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12. Red wine

According to studies, red wine reduces the risk of getting cardiovascular disease. However, more than 1-2 glasses a day can have the opposite effect. It is the resveratrol in red wine that provides the benefits.

13. Green tea

Green tea has become popular lately, and it’s no wonder.

A study conducted by Harvard Medical 2012 shows that people who drink at least four cups of green tea a day run a 20 percent less risk of getting cardiovascular disease.

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14. Broccoli, spinach and green cabbage

Everyone knows vegetables are good for you. But do you know that green vegetables are often even healthier and are especially good for the heart?

Research shows that they contain carotenoids that like antioxidants help the body get rid of harmful compounds. And they also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals.

15. Coffee

Good news for coffee lovers! Besides tasting great, the perky drink is also good for the heart.

A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine shows that those who drink at least six cups of coffee a day run a 10-15 percent smaller risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

16. Avocados

Who doesn’t love avocados? The dark fruit with green, creamy flesh is used eaten all over the world.

Avocados are full of beneficial fats, which like olive oil can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

They also contain antioxidants and potassium, writes The Heart Foundation.

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