Foods for Heart Health
SACHI FUJIMORI Email: email@example.com Blog: blog.northjersey.com/thebeat
Posted Feb 17, 2012
That dark chocolate truffle you're about to pop into your mouth
is actually good for your heart. So are avocados, a glass of red
wine and a drizzle of olive oil.
It's National Heart Health Month, and by now, you've heard enough
about cutting out saturated fats, sodium and processed carbohydrates
from your diet. But food doesn't have to be your adversary. Some
foods can actually boost your heart health by lowering cholesterol
and reducing blood pressure.
"There's plenty of evidence [that shows] when individuals follow
a healthier diet their cholesterol is improved. Exercise also has to
be included in the equation," said Dr. Stephen Angeli, chief of
cardiology at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. The best way to
eat healthy is to cook from scratch at home, avoiding processed and
high-sodium foods, Angeli says. He also advises his patients to make
a habit of reading food labels and asking restaurant servers for
heart-healthy menu options.
Having high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for
heart disease. It's a tricky balance, however, because we need
cholesterol for cellular function.
But when your body has a surplus of low-density lipoprotein
cholesterol (LDL) it builds up plaque on your artery walls,
increasing your risk for heart disease.
In contrast, the "good" cholesterols -- high-density lipoproteins
(HDLs), protect against heart disease, by transporting excess
cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where it's
processed. See our line-up of foods that help to reduce the bad
cholesterol in your bloodstream and boost the good cholesterol.
Improving your heart health doesn't only mean avoiding foods high
in saturated and trans fats. It also means increasing the amount of
good-for-your-heart foods in your diet. Here are some of those,
recommended by Dr. Stephen Angeli and the Mayo Clinic website:
Olive oil/canola oil
These contain monounsaturated fats, which help improve the
balance between your "good" and "bad" cholesterols. All fats are
high in calories, so consume in moderation.
Also high in the good monounsaturated fats; when eaten as a
substitute for saturated fats, blood cholesterol levels decrease,
according to Web MD.
The flavanols-- which are higher in dark chocolate than milk
chocolate-- help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
The Mayo Clinic advises to choose chocolate with a cocoa content of
65 percent or higher and limit your consumption to 3 ounces a day.
Cold-water fish (salmon,mackerel,herring,sardines)
These contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are
believed to reduce inflammation in the body and decrease
triglycerides and blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating
at least two servings a week of fish to reduce the risk of heart
Contains soluble fiber which reduces your LDL cholesterol and the
absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream. In addition to eating
it as a breakfast cereal, substitute oatmeal for some of the flour
in baked goods.
Preliminary evidence suggests that the plant's omega-3's help
prevent plaque build-up in arteries and lower cholesterol. Add
finely ground flax seed to soups, salads, pastas, cereal, pancakes
Dark leafy greens and colorful fruits and veggies
The ultimate health medicine: fruits and vegetables contain
vitamins, minerals, plant sterols, antioxidants, flavanols and fiber
which help lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of
stroke and heart disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may also
help you eat less high-fat foods. Go for color and variety like
broccoli rabe, kale, carrots, bell peppers, raspberries and
Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of grapes and red
wine, which may prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce bad
cholesterol and prevent blood clots. But according to the Mayo
Clinic most of the research on this compound has been done on
animals and more studies need to be done with people.
-- Sachi Fujimori
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: blog.northjersey.com/
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