It happens day after day. Hour after hour. Minute after minute. Approximately 42,048,000 times a year your hardworking heart beats.
And with each beat, it sends blood circulating throughout your body providing every cell and tissue with the oxygen and nutrients they need to survive and thrive. And at the same time, it sweeps waste products along to be processed and disposed of.
Every part of your health and wellbeing relies on your heart in some way. Yet chances are you don’t think about what’s best for your heart very often.
In fact, if you’re like most folks, heart health is an afterthought. Until something goes wrong, of course.
Let’s change that starting right now.
By taking just a few minutes to think about the best way to feed your heart right now, it can continue to keep you healthy for many more years to come.
4 of the best foods for a heart healthy diet
We’ll start with four of the BEST foods you can feed your heart for a heart healthy diet.
If you’re avoiding nuts because they’re “fattening,” stop. It’s time to take nuts off your naughty list. The truth is they’re brimming with heart-friendly unsaturated fats. And these good fats are the kind you want more of, not less, in your diet.
And study after study proves it. For example…
- A meta-analysis found folks who ate the most nuts had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease
- In a study, folks who downed 30 almonds a day lost 62 percent more weight than folks who didn’t
- In another, researchers found regularly eating pistachios led to better cholesterol and blood pressure and no extra weight gain
- The Physicians Health Study concluded that men who snacked on nuts two or more times a week had a 47 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death
In fact, researchers say making tasty nuts a part of your regular diet routine could send your overall risk for heart disease plummeting by 30 percent.
Most Americans don’t eat nearly enough legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils. And if you’re one of them, it’s time to think about changing that.
Legumes provide bunches of health benefits in every forkful. But the rewards for your heart are astounding. In a long-term, 25-year study of almost 13,000 folks around the world legumes proved themselves to be a true superfood. Making them a regular part of the diet was associated with an incredible 82 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber which can bind with cholesterol and cholesterol builders, eliminating them from your body and lowering your cholesterol levels. And the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found folks who regularly eat beans have a 47 percent lower risk of high blood pressure.
Garlic isn’t JUST a delicious way to add a punch of palate pleasing flavor to your meals. It’s also a terrific way to support your heart health.
Experts say garlic could help you create a natural barrier against dangerous plaque buildup in your arteries. In fact, three different UCLA studies found that artery-friendly garlic could slash plaque deposits by up to 50 percent.
Sometimes called Mother Nature’s ACE inhibitor, garlic reportedly can also help deter the enzymes responsible for constricting blood vessels and raising blood pressure.
If you love avocados as much as I do, I have some great news. Although creamy, rich avocados are so delicious they may feel sinful to eat, they’re actually a nutritional gold mine.
And as one of the best sources of heart-friendly fats you can find in the produce aisle, avocados are tops for your heart. They can help reduce inflammation, lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
But their heart benefits don’t end there. Avocados are a good source of potassium, the mineral that literally keeps your heart beating. And if you’re salt-sensitive that very same potassium could also help improve your blood pressure.
4 of the WORST foods for a heart healthy diet
But feeding your body heart-friendly foods is just a start. Avoiding four of the WORST foods for your heart can help keep your ticker in tip top shape too.
If you’re still drinking sugary sodas, it’s time to give them up for good. Soft drinks are a nutritional wasteland. And the simple sugars in your favorite fizzy drink drives up heart-disease-linked inflammation and triggers heart-harming high blood sugars.
A regular soda habit puts extra stress on your artery walls increasing your heart disease risk. And the more of the sugary stuff you drink the higher your risk is.
2. Baked desserts:
Baked desserts pack a double whammy for your heart healthy diet. First, there’s all the added sugars. Researchers say sweeteners ranging from white table sugar to molasses ramp up the oxidative stress levels in your body. Which means they can raise your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and heart failure.
And then there are the refined flours used in most baked desserts. Your body sees very little difference between these highly processed carbs and white sugar. Which means they too raise your heart risks.
3. Hot dogs:
Hot dogs and other highly processed meats such as sausages and lunch meat are packed full of harmful additives and junk sodium. And studies have repeatedly linked them to a higher risk for heart disease.
In fact, eating just one serving a day of processed meat—such as a single hot dog or two slices of lunch meat—was associated with a 42 percent increased risk for heart disease and a 19 percent increased risk for diabetes in a Harvard study. While unprocessed red meats weren’t linked to any heart issues and can still be included in your heart healthy diet.
For as long as most of us can remember fats were blamed for being the biggest cause for heart disease. And all fats, regardless of the type, were painted with the same bad for your heart brush.
We now know that mainstream medicine got it all wrong. Most fats aren’t the enemy. And it’s actually highly processed, added sugars—like the kind you find in candy of all sorts—which are the biggest threat to your heart health. They contribute to obesity, inflammation, unhealthy cholesterol and heart-harming diabetes.
Your hard working heart deserves some extra attention from time to time. And there’s no better way to show your ticker some love than feeding it more of the foods it thrives on, while slashing the heart-harming foods from your diet.