Your heart is an amazing machine. It beats, on average, 80 times a minute. That’s an incredible 42,048,000 times a year. Day in and day out your heart quietly keeps blood circulating throughout your body providing the oxygen and nutrients you need to survive, and shuttling waste product away to be disposed of.
Yet most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our heart. Well, that is until something goes wrong with it, and then it’s ALL we can think about. Let’s change that starting today.
Show your heart some love by adding these three heart-friendly superfoods to your shopping list.
If you’ve put nuts on the naughty list over fears of them being fattening it’s time to take them back off. Nuts are packed with the heart-friendly unsaturated fats that you want MORE of in your diet. In fact, most of the research on the subject finds nut eaters are slimmer and healthier than other folks.
For example, in one study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, almond eaters who downed around 30 nuts a day dropped 62 percent more weight than a control group who skipped the nuts.1 Plus, the almond eaters shed stubborn belly fat and had their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels drop.
Other research has revealed that getting up to 20 percent of your daily calories from delicious pistachios won’t cause you to pack on any pounds. But what a regular pistachio habit will lead to is better blood pressure and improved cholesterol, according to the study published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.2
And according to researchers at the Imperial College London eating nuts regularly could send your risk for heart disease plummeting by 30 percent.3
Avocados are so creamy and delicious that you’d be forgiven if you were convinced that there was no way they could also be good for you. But the truth is avocados are one of the best sources of healthy, heart-friendly fats on the planet. Which means they can help you slash inflammation, lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Plus avocados are brimming with your heart’s favorite mineral, potassium. Potassium literally helps keep your heart beating. And for folks who are salt-sensitive, as an electrolyte potassium can help you improve your blood pressure too. In a study published in BMJ a daily dose of less than the amount of potassium you’ll find in a single avocado helped lower systolic blood pressure by 3.4 mm Hg and diastolic numbers by 1.9 mm Hg.4
And avocados are true superstars when it comes to helping lower LDL, or so called “bad” cholesterol. When a group of volunteers went on a moderate fat diet that included an avocado a day their LDL levels plummeted 13.5 mg/dl on average, significantly reducing their heart disease risk. The drop was far more than non-avocado eaters who also were on the moderate fat diet, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.5
It turns out pomegranates aren’t just sweet and delicious, there heart friendly too. Rich in antioxidants those ruby red seeds can help you lower your cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.6,7,8,9
In a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis, pomegranate significantly reduced the absorption of LDL cholesterol, reducing volunteer’s risk for hardening of the arteries and heart disease.10 And in another study, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, a group of folks with narrowing of the arteries had their carotid artery thickness shrink by 30 percent after a year on pomegranate juice. Plus they saw significant improvements in both their LDL cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.11
1. “Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of the American Heart Association, January 2015, Volume 4, Issue 1
2. “Effects of pistachio consumption on body composition and blood lipids in healthy young women,” The FASEB Journal, April 2014, vol. 28 no. 1 Supplement 640.6
3. “Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies,” BMC Medicine, 201614:207
4. “Intersalt Cooperative Research Group. Intersalt: an international study of electrolyte excretion and blood pressure: results for 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion,” BMJ 1988;297:319-28
5. “Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial,” Journal of the American Heart Association, January 2015, Volume 4, Issue 1
6. “The effects of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health,” Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 May;17(2):113-5
7. “Effect of pomegranate juice on Angiotensin II-induced hypertension in diabetic Wistar rats,” Phytother Res. 2010 Jun;24 Suppl 2:S196-203
8. “Potent health effects of pomegranate,” Adv Biomed Res. 2014; 3: 100
9. “Pomegranate for Your Cardiovascular Health,” Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2013 Apr; 4(2): e0013.
10. “Anti-oxidative effects of pomegranate juice (PJ) consumption by diabetic patients on serum and on macrophages,” Atherosclerosis, Volume 187, Issue 2, August 2006, Pages 363–371
11. “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation,” Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33
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