5 Most Heart Healthy Foods

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While heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States it is also a worldwide problem that can we can improve upon. In 2012, Coronary Heart Disease killed over 7 million people worldwide and the numbers continue to rise every year. Avoiding heart disease and other coronary problems all begins with a healthy diet. Here are 5 foods that can significantly improve your heart health and if eaten regularly, help prevent heart complications later on in life.

1. Apples
The health benefits of apples are almost endless as this classic fruit remains a staple in preventing heart disease and strokes. Researchers have found that the antioxidant compounds in apples such as quercetin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, andkaempferolare greatly effective in preventing bad cholesterol form oxidizing and building up plaque in the arteries. These are only a few of the many antioxidants found in apples as they also contain vitamin C and a soluble fiber called pectin, which is found to also aid in lowering cholesterol.

2. Bananas
Bananas are one of the richest foods in potassium there is. The average banana contains over 400 mg of potassium which is right around 10% of your daily potassium needs. Potassium serves to balance out the level of sodium and water in the body. By eliminating excess sodium and water retention, bananas help a great deal in lowering your blood pressure and assist people taking diuretics for heart disease.

3. Green Tea
Not only has green tea been found to inhibit cancer cell growth but new studies have shown that those who drink two cups (16 ounces) a day are about 50% less likely to have a heart attack as non-tea drinkers. An added bonus is that the catechins in green tea are also beneficial in preventing gum disease.

4. Tomatoes
This ever popular fruit has it all for the heart. Plentiful in vitamin C, A, potassium, and fiber, tomatoes are considered to be one of the healthiest foods in general. Tomatoes also contain an abundance of lycopene, which gives it the healthy red skin that supports vitamins and minerals as they fight disease. One of the leading foods in preventing cardiovascular disease, tomatoes are actually found to be more healthy when cooked rather than raw. Cooked tomatoes might have less vitamin C but their lycopene is enhanced and more readily available for your body to process and aid the other nutrients you take in.

5. Salmon/Fish
Studies show that just two servings of salmon a week can lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease by 30%. Most fish contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids which help lower the levels of triglycerides in your blood that cause clotting. Omega-3s are also enormously beneficial for lowering blood pressure and preventing irregular heart rhythms. Salmon commonly contains the most omega-3s of any fish and if eaten only once or twice a week, can go a long way to keeping your heart healthy.

Sam Foster is a health writer with a passion for running, swimming, and cycling. When he’s not gearing up for his next Iron Man or triathlon he writes for St. Luke’s Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals in heart care.

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