A fluttering heart may have given you thrills as a teenager, but there comes a time when skipping a beat is a serious health problem. As well as regular check-ups with your GP, you can also help your heart by tweaking your diet to include heart-friendly foods. In fact, some doctors maintain that certain foods can even bolster your heart health, and decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
So how can you eat your way to a healthy heart? Here are 10 of our favourite foods that will tantalise your palate, and be kind to your heart.
Did you know that inflammation in the body can clot blood vessels and fast-track heart disease? That’s why nutritionists love Omega-3, a fatty acid that actively decreases triglycerides, lowers blood pressure and reduces clotting. Ultimately, this decreases the risk of stroke, heart failure and irregular beats. Find Omega-3 in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout.
Nuts and seeds
Packed full of unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, nuts can work wonders for the heart. Walnuts and almonds are fantastic, and can actively lower your cholesterol when combined with a balanced diet. So, next time you’re at the supermarket hit up the bulk buy section and make yourself a mean bag of trail mix. Throw in a handful of seeds for extra crunch, and a serious health kick.
As well as being oh so delicious, berries are brimming with soluble fibre and heart-healthy phytonutrients. Chop up strawberries on your morning muesli, blend up a blueberry smoothie, stir raspberries into natural yoghurt and sprinkle dried cranberries on your salads.
Fibre loaded flaxseed
These tiny pockets of goodness are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fibre and phytoestrogens to support a healthy heart. Blitz up a tablespoon in smoothies, sprinkle over cereal, add crunch to salads, stir into a muffin mix and even use as an egg substitute in baking recipes.
A powerhouse of nutrients, oatmeal is classed as a soluble fibre. Not only will a steaming bowl of oatmeal fill you up for hours, but it can also help reduce cholesterol levels.
High in fibre, B-vitamins and minerals, dark beans are your heart’s best friend. Pick up tins of kidney and black beans at the supermarket, and whip up a hearty veg chilli. Perfect for warming up on rainy days!
Yes, it’s true! A four ounce glass of red wine can actually help to improve your body’s good cholesterol levels. Plus, red wine also contains certain antioxidants which can help minimise the risk of developing coronary artery disease, which can trigger heart attacks. If there was ever a reason to crack open that bottle of shiraz, this is it.
More than Popeye’s secret to bulging muscles, spinach is a bona fide heart superfood. The dark, leafy vegetable is high in vitamins, minerals, folic acids and antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. If you’re not a spinach fan, experiment with its cousins like kale, swiss chard and broccoli. A mixed greens quiche is a delicious way to load up on goodness and protein.
Rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and fibre, orange fruits make your heart happy. Think mandarins, papaya, rockmelon and of course, oranges! The soluble pectin fibre in orange fruits acts as a giant sponge, soaking up excess cholesterol and protecting your heart in the process.
Cacao lovers delight, because health officials confirm that chocolate can be good for your heart. Just make sure you opt for at least 70% cocoa, because a creamy block of dairy milk offers nothing but sugar.
See how easy it is to throw some heart-friendly foods into your diet? Our advice? Eat well, maintain a balanced diet, get creative and let yourself indulge every now and then.