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What are 'heart healthy' foods?

Our Heart HQ cardiologists are often asked what foods to eat to avoid a heart attack or stroke. One of the ways we can all improve our cardiovascular (CV) health is to eat ‘heart healthy’ foods. Here are some of the best foods that are linked to lower rates of CV disease in recent studies. The overall goal is enjoying a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, and enjoying healthy foods in moderation.

  • Olives—part of the ‘Mediterranean diet’. Whole olives contain healthy fat, antioxidants and probiotics. They are also rich in phenolic compounds that are anti-inflammatory.
  • Berries—rich in anthocyanins. One cup a day lowers CV risk and helps blood vessels relax and lowers plaque build-up. They’re full of fiber and Vitamin C which helps boost your immune system.
  • Nuts—packed with healthy fat and rich in Vitamin E. Nuts are linked to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Legumes and green vegetables—an excellent source of protein. Regular intake of legumes and green vegetables has been linked to lower CV events. They’re high in carotenoids and antioxidants.
  • Fish—rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, calcium and iron. Fish reduces vascular inflammation. We recommend you eat fish at least twice per week.
  • Coffee—a recent study showed that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from CV disease.
  • Red wine—yes, in moderation! One glass a day helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower CV risk.
  • Dark chocolate (60–70% cocoa)—contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which helps reduce clotting and inflammation. Enjoy in moderation.
  • Eggs—not all cholesterol is bad. Eggs are rich in carotenoids which protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Chilli—regular consumption has been linked to lower rates of CV death. It may be compounds such as capsaicin in chilli which are responsible for lowering vascular inflammation.
  • Pork—lean pork is an excellent source of zinc and B group vitamins.

And if we could nominate one food/drink to avoid? Soft drinks. These sugar sweetened beverages are linked to weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure and raised levels of bad cholesterol. Further, regular consumption has been linked to accelerated aging!

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