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Watermelon

Watermelon
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The reason cardiologists seem obsessed with taking your blood pressure? When it’s elevated, it can eventually wear out the lining of your blood vessels, leaving them less elastic and able to function normally. That can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. This juicy melon can help. “Watermelon is the number one source of citrulline,” says Ansel. Citrulline is an amino acid the body uses to produce nitric oxide, which may help keep blood vessels relaxed and pliable.

Whole grains

Whole grains
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You may have the impression that carbs aren’t good for you, but that isn’t true. Whole grains – even in bread and pasta – are part of a heart-healthy diet. According to an analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for every 10 grams of whole grains people eat each day, their risk of heart disease dropped 14 percent; even better, their odds of dying from a heart attack fell 25 percent. This may be because whole grains are loaded with fibre, says nutritionist Angela Lemond. “Fibre helps pull cholesterol out of the body. It is also known to help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can have an indirect benefit on heart health.” Try swapping refined grains for unprocessed ones to reap the benefits.

Here are 10 easy ways to improve gut health.

Milk with DHA

Milk with DHA
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As ageing arteries stiffen up, says Lemond, they can begin to restrict your blood flow. Omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health – especially one known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It’s most commonly found in seafood, but if you’re not a fish fan, try DHA-fortified milk and eggs.

Here are 14 foods you think are dairy-free, but aren’t.

Potatoes

Potatoes
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Yes, you can have potatoes. Spuds are full of potassium: They give you more than double the amount in an average banana. That’s key because the vast majority of us aren’t getting their recommended daily amount of potassium, and it’s helpful in regulating your blood pressure. Potatoes also have a decent amount of fibre, so as long as you don’t deep-fry them or slather them in butter and sour cream, they can be a surprisingly healthy choice.

Here are 14 ‘bad’ foods you can stop demonising.

Chocolate

Chocolate
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How to help your arteries? Consider some chocolate. Cocoa beans are rich in flavanols – plant compounds that have antioxidant properties and may benefit your heart. A 2017 analysis of the research done on chocolate published in the journal Nutrients found that people who regularly ate chocolate (in moderation) had a lower risk of heart failure. Nutritionists recommend dark chocolate over other types – that high cacao percentage (above 70 percent) means the bar has more beneficial compounds.

This is what happens to your body when you eat chocolate.

Coffee

Coffee
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Like a lot of beans, coffee beans – and the java you get from them – deliver healthy antioxidants. In research, coffee seems to have potential to lower the risk of cardiac disease; the caffeine may also help your ticker. When scientists recently gave mice the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee, they discovered that the cells lining the mice’s blood vessels began to work more efficiently.

Here are 10 things that happen to your body when you quit coffee.

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Wine

Wine
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While most nutritional guidelines acknowledge that a little wine (and other types of alcohol) in moderation may be good for your heart, they do so with a strong caution, says Dr Rader. He points out that there’s no direct cause and effect – researchers haven’t established that drinking wine lowers your risk; they only know that people with a lower risk of heart disease tend to drink wine. That’s why no one is handing out free passes to drink as much as you want: Limit yourself to no more than one 120ml glass of wine a day if you’re a woman – two for men. Keep in mind you might get similar benefits with any type of alcohol.

Eggs

Eggs
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Heart specialists used to warn people to stay away from eggs because they have a lot of cholesterol. But the research suggests that the cholesterol in your food doesn’t have that much of an impact on the levels in your blood, says Taub-Dix. In fact, fats in eggs seem to boost the good HDL cholesterol in your blood (it helps prevent the buildup of plaque in vessel walls). A study conducted in China and published in the journal Heart suggested that a moderate intake of eggs (less than one a day) was associated with an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with never eating them.

Berries

Berries
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They’re fibre- and antioxidant-rich, and one study, published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, found that eating three servings a week may reduce the risk of a heart attack by a third in women. Researchers credit anthocyanins, compounds in berries that may help dilate blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pass through.

Green tea

Green tea
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Benefits abound in this brew – and British researchers found a potential new bonus: They were focusing on a compound known as EGCG, which has shown promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that the same molecule could shrink fatty deposits on artery walls. In previous research, scientists demonstrated that green tea could lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, too.

This is what happens to your body when you drink tea every day.

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Dear readers,
Please be advised that our shipment of the June issue of Reader’s Digest Asia in Hong Kong has been delayed by approximately seven days. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Kind regards, Reader’s Digest Editors