Some foods are better than others to help you maintain a healthy heart. Here are 4:
Even if they’re slightly high in calories, nuts, particularly almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pine nuts are good for the health of your heart. People who eat the equivalent of 60 ml, ¼ cup, 40 g or 1 ounce of nuts at least five times a week can reduce their risks of suffering from a heart disease by 25%. That’s because nuts are full of nutrients like unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and fibres that work to lower cholesterol levels (LDL). They also contain singular phytosterols that imitate cholesterol and replace it in the body. Some nuts, like walnuts particularly, are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help fight cardiovascular diseases. And it’s easy to add nuts to your diet—just sprinkle them over sautéed foods, salads and oven-baked vegetables or use them instead of bread crumbs.
Eat oatmeal regularly—it’s good for your heart. It contains soluble fibres, known as beta-glucan, that soak up cholesterol in the digestive tract and help eliminate it before it gets into the bloodstream. Eating 3 grams a day of these soluble fibres can help reduce cholesterol by 10% (125 ml or ½ cup of oatmeal contains one gram of soluble fibres). To add more oatmeal to your diet (whole oats, bran or flour), simply stir some into your yogurt, your cereal, your fruit sauces or use it to replace other flours in your recipes.
Often maligned, legumes (chick peas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.) are actually your heart’s best allies. They contain huge quantities of soluble fibres that prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the body. Daily consumption of legumes (125 ml or ½ cup) can reduce cholesterol levels by almost 10%. In addition to soluble fibres, legumes are also rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that help regulate blood pressure. Add legumes to your soups, salads, stews and pasta dishes. Hummus is another tasty option with the same great benefits.
Eating regular servings of fish can help protect you against heart diseases. In fact, fish is the best source of DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids responsible for reducing the risks of heart diseases. It seems like these healthy fats help lower blood pressure as well as decrease triglycerides, both associated with heart diseases. Eat fish at least twice a week to get all the heart-healthy benefits. People who get at least 250 mg of DHA and EPA per day will see their risks of suffering from a heart attack reduced by 36%. Prefer fatty fish, like mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, trout and sardines, as they have the highest levels of omega-3. There are many ways to add more fish to your diet: toss canned salmon into your salads or in a sandwich, garnish your pizza with anchovies, eat sardines and crackers for an afternoon snack, etc. For more useful advice, don’t hesitate to talk to your pharmacist.
Certain products, foods or changes in lifestyle may not be appropriate for you. Always consult your pharmacist or a healthcare professional to make sure.