These are the best foods for your heart, experts say


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February is American Heart Month. Sure, it’s a good idea to eat a nutrient-dense diet year-round, but this month, Fox News Digital is highlighting some foods that are especially good for your cardiovascular health. Read on and be sure to stock up on these nutrition stars.

Dark leafy greens

It’s time to stock up on spinach, kale, collard greens and other dark leafy greens. This recommendation comes from Isa Kujawski, MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition LLC, who after serving more than 10 years on active duty in the Navy and losing her veteran brother to suicide, has dedicated her career to helping people use food as medicine.

“Dark leafy greens are a source of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, micronutrients, and bioactive plant compounds known as phytochemicals,” says Kujawski, citing a 2018 scientific review article published in Nutrients.

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“These nutrients likely protect against cardiovascular disease through a variety of mechanisms, including altering gene expression, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation in the body,” she says. “A myriad of studies have demonstrated the association between consumption of dark leafy green vegetables and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

To learn more about dark leafy greens and their health benefits, check out: Dark leafy greens: an essential superfood.

Olive oil

Erin Kenney, MS, RD, LDN, HCP, CPT, Registered Dietitian and CEO of Nutrition Rewired is all about incorporating olive oil into your diet to keep your ticker happy.

“Olive oil consumption, especially extra-virgin, is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in people at high cardiovascular risk,” she says.

“Olive oil is rich in healthy antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats,” she continues, adding that to get the most benefit from olive oil, Avoid heating the oil and instead use it in a salad or add it to homemade hummus.

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Lawyers

In case you need another excuse to eat more guacamole, here it is. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, says Amy Adams, RDN, LDN.

“Monounsaturated fats increase our rate of elimination of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, which means our body gets rid of it faster. Higher levels of LDL can be detrimental because LDL brings cholesterol to the heart” , she explains. “A study by the Journal of the American Heart Association found that overweight/obese people who consumed more avocados had the ability to significantly lower their LDL cholesterol compared to overweight/obese people who followed a low-fat diet. greasy or moderately greasy.”

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Echoing Adams, Kenney says adding an avocado to your daily diet can help lower bad cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, according to Penn State health researchers.

“Avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fats in addition to potassium and magnesium, both of which help maintain healthy blood pressure,” she says.

Berries

“Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, all of which work to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body,” says Kujawski, citing a study by 2010 in Nutrition Reviews. “These processes improve blood pressure, vascular function and fight the formation of free radicals. Therefore, clinical studies have shown that berries help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Kristi Ruth, RD, LDN, Carrotsandcookies.com, highlights the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables in general for improving heart health.

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“It will increase your intake of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more,” she says.

“Yet blueberries have been called a standout food when it comes to improving heart health,” she continues, noting that they’re high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid, a group of phytonutrients or plant chemicals that are amazing. for heart health.

Beans

Beans are an excellent source of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, Isa Kujawski, MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition LLC, tells Fox News Digital.
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“Beans are a heart-healthy food that consists of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They improve the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and by supporting digestive wellness,” Kujawski says, pointing to research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. “Beans are high in soluble fiber, which serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria to support healthy gut flora, which is an important factor for overall heart health.”

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Adams is also all for Team Bean. “Beans contain plant sterols/stanols. Plant sterols/stanols work as active compounds in our body that are very similar in structure to cholesterol,” she explains. “Therefore, plant sterols/stanols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the small intestine. Overall, this results in less cholesterol accumulating in our bloodstream. A study has shown that consuming 2 to 4 grams of plant sterols/stanols per day can lower cholesterol by ten percent.”

Salmon

Erin Kenney, CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends consuming two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish per week.

Erin Kenney, CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends consuming two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish per week.
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“Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary artery disease,” says Kenney. . “These essential fats help reduce inflammation in the body. If you don’t like salmon, you can get the same benefits from a supplement based on a meta-analysis that found fish oil supplements omega‐3s reduced the risk of heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.”

Kenney recommends aiming for two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish (like herring, anchovies, or mackerel) per week.

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Whole grains

Think barley, oats, brown rice, millet, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and more.

“While refined carbs have a bad reputation for their negative impact on health and increased risk of heart disease, whole grains have the opposite impact,” says Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, consultant for Exercisewithstyle .com. “These grains, which are incredibly nutritious because they contain all parts of the grain, are heart protective. Many studies have shown a relationship between whole grain consumption and heart health.”

grapes

Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system.

Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system.
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“Grape skins contain resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants, which have been shown to benefit the human body. Specifically, resveratrol is part of the stilbenoid family Stilbenoids are a natural compound produced by certain plants in response to The purpose of stilbenoids is to protect the plant,” says Adams.

“Similarly, resveratrol has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system,” adds Adams. “Several studies have determined that heart disease may be linked to oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial damage. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, stimulate endothelial nitric oxide production, and inhibit inflammation vascular.”

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Nuts

These crunchy, slightly sweet nuts are a boon for heart health.

“Of all nuts, walnuts are special because they contain the highest percentage of omega 6, omega 3, and polyunsaturated fats which are cardioprotective,” Adams offers. “A study by the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated whether nut consumption affected lipid levels and blood pressure. During the study, 18 healthy men on two different diets, with one group having 20% of its calories from nuts. Each diet was followed for a total of four weeks. In conclusion, participants consuming more nuts reduced total cholesterol levels by 12.4%, lowered LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) by 16.3%.”

Nuts are also a research-backed food to support cognition and brain health.

flax seed

Flax is “one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), which are great for heart health,” says Ruth, citing research in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

She also comments that flaxseeds are high in fiber and lignans (a phytochemical), both of which are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Thanks to their fiber content, flax seeds are also useful for digestion.


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