What are heart healthy foods?

no alcohol

Our SCHS Cardiologists are often asked about 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 have been 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 (eg. Blueberries). Rich in anthocyanins, 1 cup/day lowers CV risk and helps blood vessels relax and lowers plaque buildup. And strawberries. These sweet berries also contain anthocyanins. They’re full of fiber and Vitamin C which helps boost your immune system.
  • Nuts (eg. Walnuts, almonds). Packed with healthy fat and rich in Vitamin E. Linked to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Legumes/Green vegetables (eg. Beans, peas, spinach). An excellent source of protein, regular intake has been linked to lower CV events. High in Carotenoids and antioxidants.
  • Fish (eg. Salmon/Sardines). Fresh from the (Mediterranean) Sea! Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, calcium and iron. Reduces vascular inflammation. 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! Enjoy!
  • Red wine. Yes, in moderation! One glass/day helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower CV risk.
  • Dark chocolate (60-70{bf28c90f0ccb66b2c9477d288141b229d77dc460b3230de86ba11ff4a7351c0e} 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 chili which is responsible for lowering vascular inflammation.
  • Pork. Lean pork is an excellent source of zinc and B group vitamins.

And if I 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!