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Foods that lower your risk of heart diseases

Updated on June 25, 2013

Foods that can low your risk of heat disease can be generally put into the following categories. They all have healthy benefits on your heart.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits lower your risk of heart disease through their abundant antioxidant contents. Prunes or dried plums, blueberries, and cherries contain the highest concentration of antioxidants out of all fruits tested. Red grapes contain resveratrol and quercetin. These potent antioxidants boost heart health by acting as free-radical scavengers, reducing platelet aggregation and helping blood vessels remain open and flexible. Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, good sources of vitamins and minerals, and rich in dietary fiber. A diet high in soluble fiber, as in fruits and vegetables, can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Vegetables and fruits also contain phytochemicals, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is easy. Keep carrots, cauliflower and broccoli ready to eat for quick snacks and apples, bananas, grapes or peaches in a bowl in your kitchen as a visual reminder.

Nuts

Eating nuts lowers the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), or "bad," cholesterol level in the blood. This effect may be due to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in nuts. High level of LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease. Eating nuts reduces your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also improve the health of the lining of your arteries. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help your heart by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Nuts also have lots of arginine, which is a molecule that increases the production of nitric oxide in your body, which may help improve the health of your artery walls and make them more flexible and less prone to blood clots. Other substances in nuts that could improve your heart health include Vitamin E and fiber.

Walnuts are one of the best-studied nuts, and they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. Even peanuts, not a nut, but a legume, seem to be relatively healthy.

Although the fats in nuts are mostly unsaturated, they contain a lot of calories. So eating nuts moderately is good. Eating 1 to 2 ounces (a small handful) of nuts each day is recommended.

Fish

Fish is a good alternative to high-fat meats. Some fish, such as cod, tuna and halibut, have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than meat and poultry. And certain types of fish are heart healthy because they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids,#mce_temp_url# which, as stated above, can lower your risk of heart disease may help lower blood fats called triglycerides and may reduce your risk of sudden cardiac death. Omega-3 fats are most abundant in fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.

Legumes

Beans, peas, and lentils are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Soybeans may be especially beneficial to your heart. Regularly substituting soy protein for animal protein, for example, a soy burger for a hamburger, may help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients. Whole grains are also a source of vitamins and minerals, such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and iron. Phytochemicals also are found in whole grains. Various nutrients found in whole grains play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Select high-fiber cereals for breakfast, such as bran flakes or shredded wheat, instead of muffins or doughnuts. And select whole-wheat flour rather than white flour when buying or making baked goods. Whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, preferably 100 percent whole-wheat or 100 percent whole-grain bread Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, and oatmeal are all good choices.

Heart-healthy drinks

In one study, researchers found that dringking three glasses of cranberry juice per day raised good cholesterol 10%, which in turn decreased their risk of heart disease by 40%.

Cranberrie juice inhibits low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, thus offering a natural defense against atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis results from the accumulation of in arteries which lead to restricted blood flow. In the advance stages of the disease blood flow may decrease severely or cease completely resulting in angina (chest pain), a thrombosis (blood clot) and/or myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Red wine is high in tannins and flavoniods which can raise the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. Red wine can serve as blood thinners for people with high blood pressure, and it also appears to inhibit platelet aggregation, helping to prevent the formation of clots in blood vessels. Thus it can prevent development of various cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, as well as strokes

There are many heart-healthy foods, which, if incorporated into your diet correctly, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and promote your overall health.

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