The heart: it’s more than just a muscle, it’s a symbol of love and it’s what keeps you alive but are you looking after it? It goes without saying that keeping your ticker healthy and happy has a lot to do with what you eat!
So are you eating right for your heart? Here are 10 types of food that should be in your diet:
1. Leafy greens
Think spinach, kale, collard greens. They are packed with vitamins like vitamin K – which helps to protect your arteries and promotes proper blood clotting, minerals, heaps of antioxidants and they are high in dietary nitrates which have been shown to reduce blood pressure.
2. Whole Grains
We’re talking brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, barley, oats, rye and buckwheat which are higher in fibre than refined grains which can help reduce “bad” cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.
Rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins berries protect the heart from oxidative stress and inflammation which contributes to the development of heart disease. They can improve the function of cells that line the blood vessels to help control blood pressure and clotting.
Rich in heart-healthy, monosaturated fats, avocados are more than just a really delicious toast topping! They can also help reduce cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Avocados are rich in potassium which is essential to a healthy heart as it helps to decrease your blood pressure and lower your risk of stroke.
5. Fish Oil
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea there are some types of fish that are incredibly good for your heart including salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. These fatty fish can help reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar – but if you’re not a big seafood fan try incorporating a daily does of Omega-3 capsules into your routine.
High in fibre, magnesium, copper and manganese these wrinkly nuts are great for keeping your heart healthy. They can help protect against heart disease, lower your cholesterol and inflammation – so make sure you’re snacking!
Did you know that beans contain a type of starch that is harder to digest and so instead it is fermented by the bacteria in your gut which helps lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Add to that the reduction in inflammation and blood pressure.
8. Dark Chocolate
We love this one – after all, who doesn’t like chocolate! Not only does eating this delicious treat make you happy but it also lowers your risk of heart disease. Just make sure you’re eating the right stuff; a good dark chocolate should have at least 70% cocoa and try avoid any added sugars.
It’s no secret that garlic has been used for centuries to treat any number of ailments – these little bulbs are packed with power. Garlic contains a compound called allicin which can help reduce blood pressure and inhibit the build up of platelet which in turn reduces your risk of blood clots and strokes. So when a recipe calls for a clove…double it!
10. Olive Oil
This delicious oil is packed with antioxidants, can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and is used for so much more than just cooking. Rich in monosaturated fatty acids olive oil can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure. Just make sure you’re buying pure, first cold pressed olive oil and not blended.
So how will you be incorporating these 10 delicious foods into your diet from now on? How about a Kcal Extra meal plan? We’ve got them all, in the right amounts!Written by Lauren Jacobsen, Nutrition Director