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Six Foods for a Healthy Heart (Part 1)

By on Oct 12, 2012

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Six foods for a healthy heartHeart disease can be prevented by making a few simple dietary changes, alongside regular exercise, avoiding excess alcohol and stopping smoking.  All of these factors can influence your chances of getting heart disease. A healthy diet is a good way to start to improve heart function. Read on for our six foods for a healthy heart…

There are many foods that can be harmful to the heart if eaten in excess. Junk food, processed ready meals, salty foods and fried foods can contribute to heart disease. There are however certain foods that can help maintain a healthy heart, reduce blood pressure, improve heart function and lower cholesterol levels

The following foods will provide you with many essential nutrients that are important for a healthy heart:

Seeds and Nuts are a rich source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 oils help to reduce levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. You can add a handful of nuts and seeds to your breakfast or salads throughout the day. Flax seed oil is another way to get omega 3 oils into the diet. This can be added to cereals or salads. Nuts such as walnuts and almonds have a high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants (e.g. selenium, vitamin E) help to neutralise free radicals, which can damage the heart. These foods also work by reducing general inflammation. Many illnesses are now being linked to inflammation, so foods which reduce inflammation should be part of a daily diet.

Fruit and Vegetables are always mentioned as foods that we need to eat more of. The famous “5-a day” slogan is everywhere! We actually should be doubling this to 10-a day to get the correct levels of nutrients for good general health. Fruits and vegetables provide us with numerous vitamins and minerals.

Green vegetables are very important for a healthy heart, as they contain magnesium. This essential mineral helps to reduce bloods pressure.  Green vegetables are also a good source of B vitamins , which help to reduce levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body, and has been associated with heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).

Coloured fruits such as berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), bananas and apples can help to reduce blood pressure. Coloured fruits are high in antioxidants. These fruits are also a good source of vitamin C. This vitamin has been found to improve heart function and reduce atherosclerosis.

Brightly coloured vegetables such as beetroot and peppers are also very important for a healthy heart. Aside from having high levels of antioxidants, vegetables are a good source of fibre. Fibre helps to main a healthy digestive system and reduces cholesterol levels.

Beetroots are also high in nitrates, which have also been linked with reducing blood pressure.