Your heart, the most important muscle, works tirelessly to transport nutrient rich blood throughout your body.
Its role is absolutely vital and since cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, giving your heart a little extra tender loving care can benefit you for years and decades to come.
In the United States nearly one in every three deaths is due to heart disease.
While the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease has dropped in recent years, it still claims almost 1 million people each year, and in many of these cases, simple dietary changes could have prevented death.
High cholesterol puts one at an increased risk for heart problems, and often times those who suffer from high cholesterol levels are prescribed a statin drug to combat this issue.
The problem with this approach is that statin drugs are generally only effective for people afflicted with hypercholesterolemia, a genetic defect.
For everyone else, statin drugs may actually increase your risk for heart disease. A study completed in 2012 and published in Atherosclerosis, detailed the effects of statin drugs prescribed to people with high cholesterol and found that statins may not always be the best solution.
Heart disease can be identified by a number of warning signs, including:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- If you have any of these symptoms, it may be a good time to see a doctor. A medical professional can provide you with the knowledge you’ll need to change your lifestyle and improve your heart health.
Fortunately there are simple, heart healthy foods that you can easily add to your diet to improve your heart’s ability to function.
Heart Healthy Foods
Here’s some of our favorite superfoods that do double duty as heart healthy foods…
heart-healthy foods-garlicGarlic has been shown to help reduce hardening of the aorta, which promotes optimal blood flow by preventing blockages. Typically, blockages that develop in the arteries greatly limit the amount of blood that can flow freely. This forces the heart to work harder.
By adding garlic to your diet, you can actively fight against hardening arteries. In addition, garlic is known to help naturally lower LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol.
Pomegranates contain high levels of antioxidants, polyphenols, and vitamin C, which help the body produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that opens up the arteries, allowing more blood to pass through.
The vasodilating effects of pomegranates were thoroughly studied, with the results being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. This definitely makes pomegranates a sweet way to treat your heart.
Salmon is a great source of heart loving omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help to increase HDL cholesterol – the healthy cholesterol.
This allows your body to lower levels of triglycerides and fight inflammation. Since inflammation is the start of nearly all chronic diseases. This eases the strain placed on your heart and allows blood to flow throughout the body uninhibited.
Turmeric is a spice native to India with a lot of power. It contains a fascinating compound called curcumin, which helps to ward off inflammation and keep blood vessels healthy. Preventing inflammation is one of the best ways to stop blockages from developing in your blood vessels.
Cocoa contains flavanols, which are anti-inflammatory antioxidants. These antioxidants may help defend against heart disease by improving circulation, reducing bad cholesterol, and preventing the hardening of arteries.
Cocoa can even thin your blood and prevent clotting, much like aspirin. There are so many other benefits of consuming cocoa that go beyond heart health.
The best thing about these heart healthy foods, is that they can be found at any grocery store. So improving your cardiovascular health can be as easy as adding these superfoods to your cart the next time you go shopping.
Try adding some pomegranate juice in a fruit smoothie, or buy dark chocolate bar with at 65% cacao content for dessert. Start your day off right and season your morning eggs with turmeric. The possibilities are endless.
By being good to your heart and limiting the stresses you place on it, you can prolong your life and boost your overall health for years and decades to come!