American Heart Month officially begins in February. This initiative to raise awareness about what can be done to improve heart health is critical, as the statistics on cardiovascular diseases, which the World Health Organization defines as a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions, are bleak.
According to WHO data, CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated 17.9 million lives yearly. Heart attacks and strokes account for more than four of every five CVD deaths. In 2020, over 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease, accounting for one out of every five deaths.
But not all is lost! Living an active lifestyle combined with a balanced diet is the most effective preventative step you can take to maintain heart health and guarantee you live a long, healthy life. Best of all, you can gradually incorporate these aspects into your everyday regimen. When developing the ideal habits to support cardiovascular health, something as simple as selecting the correct foods and beverages now might benefit your heart much in the future.
We asked dietitians which foods and drinks are perfect selections for lowering your risk of cardiovascular issues to assist in getting you on the right track with your diet in ways that can effectively support your heart health. Here’s what they say!
Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association advocate eggs as part of a healthy eating routine. The AHA recommends that ‘healthy individuals can include up to a whole egg or equivalent daily’ as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.
Given eggs’ nutritional benefits and simplicity, older normocholesterolemic patients can consume up to two eggs per day as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern. According to research, eating up to one egg daily may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Other research reveals that eggs have antioxidant capabilities that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Because these plant-based snacks can help manage your cholesterol, eating nuts can be a fantastic method to support your heart health.
According to research, persons who eat nuts daily are less likely to suffer heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who consume them infrequently. This is because nuts reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, accumulating in arteries and forming plaques associated withth heart disease. Research of over 210,000 adults tracked for up to 32 years discovered that those who ate an ounce of nuts five or more times per week had a 14% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate nuts rarely over the study period.
According to Manaker, pistachios, in particular, are great deterrents against cardiovascular disorders because their antioxidant characteristics help guard your body against free radicals, thereby boosting your heart health.
Pistachios are a food that may aid the body in battling the effects of free radicals, which can improve heart health. Free radicals harm healthy body cells, which are thought to contribute to inflammation and the accumulation of oxidative stress. Collectively, this can accelerate cellular aging while also playing a foundational role in promoting chronic health disorders such as heart disease.
Pistachios’ antioxidant content rivals popular antioxidant-containing foods such as blueberries, pomegranates, cherries, and red wine. According to research, pistachios can help with weight management, cholesterol, blood sugar control, and heart health.
Black or green tea
Flavan-3-ols are a plant component found in green and black tea. The recommendation for how many flavan-3-ols we should consume daily supports several aspects of our health, including heart health. Two cups of green or black tea daily will supply enough flavan-3-ols to meet the 400-600 mg requirement.
Whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, rye, quinoa, and whole wheat, have been linked to lower systolic blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a lower risk of heart disease. A review of 45 studies found that eating three or more servings of whole grains per day was related to a 22% decreased risk of heart disease. Avoid refined, processed grains such as white bread and processed snacks, which can raise the risk of heart disease.
Because they are high in soluble fiber, a nutrient associated with cholesterol management, and a lower risk of heart disease, oats are an ideal whole grain to help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Fresh and frozen blueberries include several nutrients that promote heart health. In addition, a balanced dietary pattern that includes more fruits is linked to a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
One cup of fresh blueberries, equivalent to 26 grams of freeze-dried blueberries, may lower the acute cardiometabolic load of high-energy meals. In the 24 hours following a high-calorie, high-fat/high-sugar dinner, adding anthocyanin-rich blueberries results in lower insulin and glucose levels, decreased total cholesterol, and enhanced good cholesterol. These findings are significant since rising post-meal glucose and decreased glucose tolerance are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, which is already present in persons with metabolic syndrome.
Wild blueberries’ anthocyanins, minerals, and fiber have been linked to lower cardiovascular risk profiles. Their anthocyanins assist blood vessels in functioning better and remaining healthier, allowing the heart to work less hard to circulate blood throughout the body. Wild blueberries are sweet and tasty and great for baking and smoothies, topping cereal and yogurt, or simply eating on their own.
Orange juice (100%)
Orange juice, not a blend with added sugars, has a host of heart-healthy elements such as vitamin C, potassium, and folate. In addition, citrus fruits contain two distinct plant chemicals: hesperidin and naringenin. Consumption of these chemicals has been related to a variety of heart-health benefits, including a lower risk of stroke. In addition, according to one meta-analysis, chronic orange juice consumption has a positive effect on blood pressure and good cholesterol levels in overweight and obese adults.
Learn more: Amazingly Good Eggnog Recipe