Do you want to stay protected from heart diseases? Undoubtedly, the number of patients suffering from heart diseases is increasing day by day. According to some studies, up to 70% of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices. Here are some foods that will keep your heart healthy.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc all help to make a handful (about 1/4 cup a day) of crunchy almonds good for your heart and your mood. B vitamins and magnesium help produce serotonin, which helps regulate mood. Zinc has also been shown to fight some negative effects of stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease. They’re the perfect snack — so much better than a bag of chips. Or, add some slivered beauties to your morning oatmeal.
2. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate (at least 75 percent cocoa; 85 percent is best) is not only a stress reducer — who doesn’t love a piece of chocolate? — but it is heart-healthy, too! One study, conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, showed that eating 6 ounces of dark chocolate a day lowered bad cholesterol. And that’s not all. Another researcher found that cocoa contains phenols — antiseptic, anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce your risk of heart disease by keeping fat-like substances from oxidizing in the blood and clogging your arteries.
Almost all fruit is good for you — cherries, strawberries, mangos, peaches — yum! But these blue-hued beauties work overtime to provide you with antioxidants and vitamin C, both potent stress busters. They’re low in calories and sugar, so you can snack on them to your heart’s content without an ounce of guilt (or fat). Blueberries are also a good source of fiber, which can help relieve the cramps and constipation that can occur when you’re stressed out. Pile ’em on cereal, eat them fresh from the basket, or blend them with some plain yogurt, a banana, and some ice for a fabulous smoothie.
Broccoli is packed with B vitamins and folic acid, which has been shown to help relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and even depression. Steam broccoli in the microwave (rinse and chop it, place it in a glass or other nonreactive bowl, and cover it with a damp paper towel, not plastic wrap) for a few minutes for optimal nutrition. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and, if you dare, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for punch, and you’ve got yourself a sublime yet simple side dish.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Talk about a nutritional powerhouse! The more color a veggie has the better it is for you, according to nutritionists — and sweet potatoes might be the brightest of all. Potent antioxidants found in sweet potatoes help to shield our hearts. Plus, their sweet taste makes them delicious enough to eat for dessert. But if you don’t want to go that far, try chunking them up into 1-inch squares, roasting them at a high heat (400 degrees) for about 30 minutes, and then tossing them with some chopped dried plums (better known as prunes) for a tempting and unique side dish next to roasted chicken or turkey — or as a vegetarian meal on its own.
6. Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, dandelion greens, turnip tops, and Swiss chard — they’re all amazing foods that provide iron plus lots of vitamin C, both good for strong bones, teeth, and hair, and vitamin A and magnesium, both of which are excellent at helping you maintain calm. Sauté one or more type of greens with lemon or orange juice and garlic, or purée with a little low-sodium chicken or veggie broth and white beans for a satisfying soup.