Advertisement

1. Keep your heart healthy

1. Keep your heart healthy
Getty Images

The number one killer in the United States is heart disease: According to the US CDC, 610,000 people die from it every year – that is about one out of every four deaths.

The cause is clogged arteries, and things like calcium, plaque, and fatty acids can do the damage.

“There is no one magic food that acts like Drano and cleans out the accumulated plaque,” says Florian Rader, MD, a cardiologist at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

“But good habits can help slow down that process, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet is one factor you can control to a great degree. And,” he says, “It’s never too late to start.”

You can start the path to heart health by looking at your alcohol intake. Red wine may protect you from heart disease, but some people shouldn’t drink it at all.

2. Oats

2. Oats
Getty Images

It’s been more than 20 years since the US FDA approved heart-healthy claims for these whole grains, and research keeps uncovering new benefits.

The main one, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, is their rich supply of soluble fibre, which has been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels.

Why that’s good for your arteries, according to Dr. Rader: “Cholesterol can seep into the inner layer of blood vessels and form plaque over time.”

Since most Americans fall chronically short on fibre, the four grams per cup that oats deliver are a welcome addition.

Fibre is a key ingredient to a bloat-free belly.

3. Beans

3. Beans
Getty Images

In addition to being a great source of soluble fibre – black beans have three times as much of it per cup as oats – studies have found that bean-rich diets may help make arteries more elastic, contributing to lower blood pressure.

Another perk: Antioxidants, which are especially abundant in colourful varieties such as black beans and red kidney beans, may fight the inflammation that contributes to heart disease.

Black beans not already part of your cooking repertoire? Try this delicious lamb and black bean dish.

4. Lentils

4. Lentils
Getty Images

These protein-packed discs come from the same legume family as beans, which means that they pack many similar benefits.

Preliminary research in rats found that lentils appear to reverse the damage to blood vessels caused by high blood pressure.

Plus, lentils are at the top of the food spectrum for protein and fibre content, with very little fat, and contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium – all minerals that can help lower blood pressure.

Want to know what the experts avoid? Here’s the list of foods, processed goods, ingredients, and chemicals that nutritionists won’t put on their plates.

5. Fish

5. Fish
Getty Images

A lot of the research on omega-3 fatty acids focuses on brain health, but these potent anti-inflammatories have benefits for your ticker, too.

Research links inflammation inside your body to a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including plaque buildup, says Dr. Rader.

So there’s speculation that reducing inflammation might reduce plaque in your arteries.

Eating fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel is one way to get your fill of omega-3s, so try to eat some at least twice a week, says Taub-Dix.

Hippocrates had it right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

When your body feels out of whack, certain foods can help set you back on the right track and fish is one of them.

6. Avocados

6. Avocados
Getty Images

Fat of any kind used to be at the top of the list of things that are bad for your heart.

Not anymore: Research reveals that mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in avocados, are heart healthy because they help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, says Taub-Dix.

These green fruits also contain a decent amount of fibre.

Did you know the healthiest part of an avocado is usually found in the bin?

Advertisement

7. Pistachios

7. Pistachios
Getty Images

Nuts are another good source of heart-healthy fats, and pistachios have this bonus: They’re filled with plant sterols, the same substances in cholesterol-lowering products that help block cholesterol absorption in your gut, says Karen Ansel, RD, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer.

If you’re allergic to nuts, you can also get plant sterols from sesame seeds.

The pistachio is an ideal ingredient to any dessert.

Take a look at this updated version of the traditional Greek baklava made with a cinnamon–spiced filling of dried dates, dried mango and pistachios, layered with filo pastry.

8. Turmeric

8. Turmeric
Getty Images

In recent years, more people have started recognising the health-boosting properties of this brilliant yellow spice traditionally used in Indian cuisine.

A substance in the spice, curcumin, is an antioxidant that may help prevent fatty deposits from building up and blocking arteries, Ansel says.

If you’re not a huge fan of curry, try a golden latte made with the spice.

While spices may seem an overly ambitious addition to the garden, those spices related to ginger, such as cardamom, galangal and turmeric, can be grown in many warmer districts.

9. Broccoli

9. Broccoli
Getty Images

Scientists have known for years that cruciferous veggies like broccoli have cancer-fighting abilities, but researchers are also examining broccoli’s role in heart health.

There’s evidence that a compound in it called sulforaphane may assist the body’s natural defenses against arterial clogs by activating a certain kind of protein, says Ansel.

Broccoli also has fibre and anti-inflammatory properties.

10. Asparagus

10. Asparagus
Getty Images

Another green giant as far as heart health goes, these fibrous stalks are rich in quercetin, a phytonutrient that prevents plaque from sticking to your arteries.

“Whether you have a family history of heart disease or are simply trying to prevent it, asparagus should be at the top of your shopping list,” Ansel says.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us:

Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team