Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the CDC (centre for disease control and prevention). In fact, it accounts for one third of all deaths worldwide.
Diet plays a huge role in your heart health and can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Certain foods can help to control blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for developing heart disease.
Here are 5 of our top foods to improve your heart health.
Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and plenty of potassium. Monosaturated fats have been linked to reducing cholesterol levels and just one avocado can make up 28% of your daily potassium intake. Getting enough potassium in your diet can decrease high blood pressure and lower your risk of a stroke.
- Green tea
Green tea is a great natural source of energy! Making it ideal for perking yourself up and increasing productivity without overdosing on too much caffeine. It’s also great for boosting your metabolism, making it the ideal beverage to aid weight-loss.
So how is our weight linked to heart disease? Obesity can cause high cholesterol levels and an increase in blood pressure. Obese individuals are also more at risk of developing diabetes and according to the American Heart Association, at least 68 percent of people aged 65 or older with diabetes also have heart disease.
Drink it hot or cold, and if the taste isn’t for you, try adding in some fresh lemon or honey.
Berries contain a high concentration of antioxidants and plenty of fibre – a complex carbohydrate also known for lowering cholesterol levels. Some berries such as blueberries and raspberries are particularly high in inflammatory antioxidants which will in turn, improve heart health. It is recommended that the average person should aim to eat 1-2 cups of berries per day. Making them the perfect on-the-go snack!
Tomatoes protect heart health by containing a chemical called lycopene (also known for giving the tomato it’s red colour). Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from damage. It also lowers cholesterol and keeps your blood from clotting. Here are some great ways to get more tomatoes into your diet:
- Drinking tomato juice
- Using tomatoes to create a homemade pasta sauce
- Adding tomato slices to salads and sandwiches
- Eat them on their own! Pop some in a Tupperware box for a handy at-work snack.
- Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate! Taste amazing and is good for you (in moderation). It is believed that dark chocolate has protective benefits against atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up inside the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke. The darker, the better! opt for a bar of chocolate with a high cocoa content for optimal health benefits. Cocoa provides plenty of oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil).