There are many parts of a heart-healthy diet—including one that keeps the heart and blood vessels in good shape and keeps blood flowing well to every part of the body. But some foods are especially good at lowering the chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or other heart problem. Keep reading to learn what you should put in your shopping cart!
Vegetables in the Cabbage Family
In general vegetables are heart-friendly. But those in the cabbage family—cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower—might be your heart’s best friend. In a new study, researchers had 1000 women fill out food diaries and then used a type of test using sound waves called ultrasound to measure the thickness of the arteries in the neck and the amount of plaque—the waxy material that clogs arteries—in them. Those who ate these vegetables more often had thinner (healthier) arteries and less plaque.
Oats contain a special type of fiber that improves your heart’s health by lowering LDL (the bad) cholesterol, research shows. It works by attaching to cholesterol in the intestines and preventing it from being absorbed. You can eat whole-grain oat cereals or oatmeal to get this benefit.
Tomatoes—eaten either fresh off the vine or cooked in sauces—help the heart in several ways. They reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and lower stroke risk.A substance in tomatoes called lycopene is believed to be responsible for these effects.
A study of more than 100,000 men and women showed that drinking two cups a day of coffee may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by 30%. Men who drank one cup a day had a 6% lower risk of dying from heart disease while women had a 5% lower risk of such deaths. Coffee may not be a good idea if you have a problem with your heart rhythm, however. Talk to you doctor if you have questions.
Less than 1% of children and 8% of adults in America eat the three to five servings of whole grains each dayas recommended by the USDA for good health. Yet research shows that these foods, which include whole-wheat breads and pasta, brown rice, barley, and bulgur, help to prevent heart disease. People with the highest amounts of whole grains in their diet had a 28% lower risk for heart disease compared to people who ate the least.
According to one study, people who drank 4 or more cups of green tea a day reduced their risk of heart disease and stroke by 20%, compared to people who didn’t drink it very often.
Adding these heart-helping foods to your plate is one step toward lowering your risk for serious heart problems. Another way to be sure you’re heart-healthy is to have your doctor check some simple blood and urine tests. See www.knowyourrisk.com to learn more about these tests and how they can put you on a path to better heart health!