Taking the lives of nearly 385,000 people each year, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Smoking, high LDL cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure are the biggest contributing factors of this hidden killer. While eating the wrong foods will increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, eating the right foods will actually reduce your chances. Keep reading to learn 4 of the best “heart-healthy” foods to ward off cardiovascular disease.
#1 – Nuts
Nuts are not only a delicious snack; they are also good for your heart. Nuts are packed with unsaturated fatty acids, fiber and essential vitamins and nutrients. The rich fiber works to clean cholesterol from your system, while the fatty acids work to lower your bad cholesterol levels.
It’s important to note that some nuts are better for your heart than others. Almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts contain the most nutrients, while peanuts contain the least.
#2 – Salmon
Wild (not farm raised) salmon is arguably one of the best foods available for a healthy heart. Salmon is packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D and amino acids. In addition to reducing your chance of cardiovascular disease, eating salmon on a regular basis can also improve your cognitive function. Try to get into the habit of eating a salmon dinner at least once a week for optimal benefits.
#3 – Beans
Yet another powerful heart-healthy food is beans. The Journal of Nutrition published a study on their website which reveals the link between beans and low cholesterol levels. Eating just ½ cup of pinto beans each day will reduce your bad cholesterol levels. This is due in part to the soluble fiber found within the beans. When this fiber enters the body, it’s transformed into healthy fatty acids.
#4 – Dark Chocolate
Contrary to what some people may believe, not all chocolate is bad for your health. Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins and even a kick of plant protein, all of which promote a healthy heart.
Consuming moderate amounts of dark chocolate can even lower your blood pressure, which is just one more reason why you should add it to your diet. The key thing to remember, though, is that it needs to contain at least 70% cocoa; otherwise, it won’t offer the same benefits. And avoid milk and white chocolate, both of which contain large amounts of saturated fat and sugar.