Everything that you eat has an effect on your body. Whether good or bad, every food leaves some effects. These effects are shown on your skin, hair, bones, muscles and your heart too. We all know that food that is high in fat increases the cholesterol level in your body that affects your heart.
Increased amount of LDL cholesterol (Low-density Lipoproteins) is harmful for your body. It is one of the major reasons behind atherosclerosis, which is the formation of a hard plaque in your arteries that causes them to get narrow and thus, interrupts the proper flow of the blood. This increases your chances of developing heart diseases and stroke as well. However, you can prevent all these by eating healthy.
Eating heart healthy food can improve your circulation, remove the plaque and make your heart work properly. You can ask your doctor about DASH diet (full form Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that helps you to improve your circulatory system.
Legumes contain soluble fiber. They are a kind of fruit that is grown in a pod.
Three to Four servings of legumes a week can help you improve your heart health as they remove the excess LDL cholesterol from your system. These include lentils, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas and soybeans.
We all have heard our parents telling us “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This is not just a saying but fruits actually have the power to keep you away from many diseases.
There are a lot of fruits that contain soluble fiber that helps clean your arteries.
Apples, pears, bananas, prunes and oranges have LDL cholesterol-lowering properties and you can add four to five servings of any of these to get the benefit from them. These fruits also contain potassium in them that reduces the effects of dietary sodium on blood pressure.
Vegetables contain plant sterol in them that functions in the same way as soluble fiber does, to remove any harmful LDL cholesterol from your body. You should eat three to five servings of deeply colored vegetables every day for a good heart health.
Sweet potatoes, broccoli and carrots are very good for your heart. Besides that, vegetables also contain potassium that fights salt’s ability to raise the blood pressure.
Also, dark, leafy green vegetables also contain magnesium that aids in regulating the blood pressure. Spinach and Kale are a good source of magnesium.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are an amazing food if you are planning to lose weight but they also help a lot in improving your circulatory system.
According to the American Heart Association, you should eat at least six servings of whole grains daily.
Whole grains including steel-cut oatmeal, oat bran, rice bran and barley contain soluble fiber in them that gets attached to the excess LDL in your digestive tracts and helps it pass from the body.
Another benefit of eating whole grains is that they contain magnesium that dilates your blood vessels. This allows a proper flow of blood through them.
Inflammation is also a major cause of plaque formation in your arteries. Oily fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help a lot in reducing the inflammation.
You should eat around 2 servings of salmon, halibut, mackerel, albacore tuna or lake trout at least once in a week.
6. Lean Meat
Protein is a very important nutrient for our body. Our body needs 3 ounces to 6 ounces of protein every day.
Meat is an amazing source of protein however you should avoid eating red meats because the amount of saturated fats is high in them that can lead to plaque formation in the arteries.
You should eat grilled or baked lean meat like chicken and ground turkey to avoid the intake of any unhealthy saturated fatty acids and get the required amount of protein at the same time too.
7. Low-Fat and Fat Free Dairy
Full-fat dairy products contain saturated fats too. You should choose low-fat or fat free dairy products as they are much better for your health as compared to the full-fat ones.
Dairy products should not be avoided completely as they are a very good source of calcium that makes your bones and muscles work properly.
To fulfill the required 2 to 3 servings per day, you should choose skim milk, low-fat or fat-free varieties of yogurt, cheese or cottage cheese.
According to the American Heart Association, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts make up to your weekly 3 to 4 servings of nuts, legumes and seeds.
Just like fish, nuts also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that keep your heart healthy and contain magnesium that regulates your blood pressure as it prevents plaque formation. However, they are high in calories so you only need to eat a handful at a time.
Oils that are healthy for your heart also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These oils include olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and canola oil.
Olive oil also helps to raise the level of HDL, that is the good cholesterol and helps prevent plaque formation.
You can use these oils instead of butter while cooking so you get the required 2 to 3 servings per day.
Water is very important for your body, but you should avoid drinking all juices and processed drinks that contain sugar.
According to Merk Manuals, black tea and red wine contain flavonoids that are the phytochemicals that help you protect your arteries from any damage. However, you should not drink more than one glass of red wine if you are a female and not more than two if you are a male.
These common and easily available foods are very important for you as they not only improve your heart health, but most of them also help you lose weight too.
Make it a habit of consuming all these according to the recommended servings per day so that you do not have to face any problems later.
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