3 Heart-Healthy Foods for Valentine’s Day
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, for both men and women, but you can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by not smoking, getting moderate exercise, and, most importantly, eating a healthy diet.
The right selection of fruits, grains, vegetables, and proteins can improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce arterial plaque. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, walnuts, and flax seeds, have an anti-clotting effect that aids blood flow; and polyphenols — antioxidants that fight against cell-damaging free radicals — are especially effective at preserving heart health and reducing inflammation.
Give yourself and your loved one the gift of good health this Valentine’s Day by incorporating some heart-healthy foods into your diet.
Whether you like them spread on toast or blended into a creamy guacamole, find any way to incorporate avocados into your diet. The fruit (yes, avocado is technically a fruit) is a plentiful source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. One study found that when participants’ diets were enriched with avocados, their LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped by 17 and 20 percent respectively, and their healthy HDL cholesterol levels increased. Recent research also shows that avocados may be useful in the treatment of hypertension.
There is a growing body of evidence that links polyphenols — a type of antioxidant found in cocoa, tea, red wine, and berries — to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease through an improvement in vascular function and a reduction of inflammation. Blueberries are especially rich in polyphenol compounds and are overall one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. A continuous study that has tracked the health of 93,600 female nurses since 1989 provided evidence that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had lower instances of heart attacks.
Enough can’t be said for the health benefits of salmon; it’s low in calories, high in protein, and a rich source of B vitamins, but, most importantly, incorporating more salmon into a diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Salmon’s abundant supplies of omega-3 fatty acids help reduce blood clotting, and research shows that it lowers triglyceride levels and risk of coronary artery disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish, like salmon, at least twice a week. If fresh or canned fish is not accessible, fish oil supplements are another way to fortify a diet with omega-3 fatty acids.