The heart is among the most critical organs in the human body. Yet, most of the time, people pay no attention to their heart health by consuming healthy heart foods until they feel a flutter or have hypertension. World Heart Day, celebrated on September 29, hopes to educate people on healthy tips to keep their heart strong.
Along with a regular exercise regime, and meditation to counter stress, diet plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy heart. This Heart Day, we bring you the 10 most healthy heart foods.
1. Vitamin C-rich foods
Vitamin C is essential for a healthy heart. It helps strengthen the immune system and keep diseases at bay. Foods rich in Vitamin C are healthy heart foods loaded with antioxidants making them great for the heart. The best food for a healthy heart is Amla or Indian Gooseberry which is a powerhouse of nutrition with an abundance of Vitamin C. Other healthy heart foods include oranges, lime, lemons and even tomatoes.
Not just great to add flavour to pasta and gravies, garlic is great for your heart too. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, making it one of the best healthy heart foods that helps lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood pressure. In a lot of cases, garlic has also been used as a medicine in the form of pills. Sauté garlic lightly in oil and add to your food, or for best results, consume a small amount raw, first thing in the morning.
3. Nuts and Berries
Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are leading healthy heart foods to incorporate in your diet. They help lower cholesterol and inflammation both of which contribute to heart disease. Similarly berries such as strawberries and blueberries are also healthy heart foods loaded with antioxidants making them great for your heart. This Heart Day, ditch the chips and snack on a handful of nuts and berries instead. You can even add these to your salads for a bit of added crunch and flavour.
4. Fatty Fish
Fish such as Salmon and Indian Basa are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids that help protect the heart and power up the good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. However, for maximum nutrition don’t fry the fish but grill it in less oil. Steamed fish is another healthy option of healthy heart foods that protects the nutritional components.
Largely associated with breakfast, oats are a great source of dietary fiber and healthy nutrients making it one of the great healthy heart foods. Top up your oats with nuts and berries or healthy spices like cinnamon for that extra boost of nutrition. For maximum nutrition, opt for rolled or steel-cut oats in comparison to instant oats.
6. Dark chocolate
An absolute favourite addition of many when it comes to healthy heart foods. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and is also believed to protect against atherosclerosis – a condition leading to stiffness of the arteries. Opt for chocolates that are at least 70% dark and consume them in moderation for a great taste and a healthy heart.
Can’t function without your morning cup of Joe? Don’t worry, it’s actually good for your heart. Recent studies are revealing the benefits of coffee in regard to the heart and liver. However, moderation is key. Avoid loading your coffee with too much cream or sugar and don’t exceed 3 cups a day as it can make you jittery. If you have anxiety or are overly active, herbal teas that are caffeine-free may actually prove more beneficial for your heart.
8. Green leafy vegetables
The cliché ‘eat your greens’ isn’t just good for your overall health but great for your heart too. Spinach, in particular, offers a myriad of heart benefits by being rich in potassium and magnesium that maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack. The antioxidant properties also help support a healthy heart and prevent stiffening of arteries – a major cause for a stroke. For maximum benefits, sauté the spinach in a bit of heart-healthy oil and avoid overcooking it which could lead to loss of nutrients.
These tiny seeds are a huge powerhouse of nutrition that make them a must-have this World Heart Day. Among the best seeds for the heart are chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds. You can either have them raw by grinding them to a powder or roast them in a pan and have them whole. Munch on these by themselves or add a spoonful to your smoothies, salads and sandwiches. Make sure to buy small quantities and consume them fresh for maximum nutrition.
Fruits are great natural sources of nutrition for good overall health. When it comes to the heart, apples and bananas are among the top healthy heart foods. An apple a day can surely keep the heart doctor away owing to its anti-inflammatory properties that prevent plaque from accumulating in the arteries while also containing huge antioxidant benefits. Further, bananas are loaded with potassium that promote healthy blood pressure levels and heart health.