For centuries, human beings have thrived in conditions that seemed impossible to overcome - ancient humans were omnivores who subsisted on hunting and gathering, modern implements made farming feasible, and today we stand at the apex of the food chain.
However, this success has also led to negative consequences such as a sedentary lifestyle, high levels of stress, and most importantly, a bad diet! The heart, which is in many ways our lifeline, suffers the most. Especially in the modern era, where 1/3rd of all deaths worldwide are caused by heart disease! It is now a well-known fact that some foods can affect blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation - all factors that are accountable for the risk of heart disease.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had Super-foods that could help us become Super-people? Lucky for us, nature has provided us with a bountiful supply of heart-healthy foods that can make us healthier and keep us going, in spite of all the problems associated with modern life. Let’s take a look at some of the best Super-foods that help keep the heart fit, with our heart-healthy foods list.
Growing up, most of us were told to eat our vegetables. As it turns out, this piece of parental wisdom can protect our hearts too! Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re an especially great source of vitamin K, which helps protect arteries and promote proper blood clotting. They also contain Dietary Nitrates, which help lower blood pressure, reduce arterial stiffness, and improve the function of the cells that line the blood vessels.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and a handful of walnuts a day helps lower your cholesterol! Additionally, it helps protect against inflammation in the arteries of the heart. Walnuts are packed with Omega-3s, healthy (monounsaturated) fats, plant sterols, and fibre. These benefits are evident when walnuts replace bad (polyunsaturated) fats, often found in chips, cookies and many other sweet treats.
Nothing beats a good bowl of good old dal! Also known as pulses or legumes, they help reduce Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also called, “bad cholesterol” significantly. Beans, peas, lentils (dal) and chickpeas (chana) are also full of fibre, protein, and antioxidant polyphenols. All of these are highly beneficial for heart health and overall well-being.
These are rich plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, containing high levels of alpha-linolic acid. Omega-3s help reduce the levels of triglycerides, LDL, and overall cholesterol. They also help lower blood pressure and minimize the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries, making them great for heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to lower the risk of thrombosis, arrhythmias and many more heart disorders.
Who said a healthy food list couldn’t be full of tasty goodies? Dark chocolate (when eaten in moderation) has been shown to provide protection against atherosclerosis (plaque buildup inside the arteries). This makes it a heart-healthy food that is effective against heart attack and stroke! Even better - the flavanol content of dark chocolate (which makes it tasty) doesn’t seem to affect its protective benefits!
As we go forward into the future, the link between our diets and diseases can no longer be underestimated. What we eat can affect nearly every aspect of heart health - from high blood pressure and inflammation to high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides. This list acts as a handy starting point for a heart healthy diet that allows the heart to stay strong and keep us going. Keeping the heart healthy with diet and exercise can help reduce the ill effects of modern living and keep us fit and healthy for a fulfilling life ahead.
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