By Kristy Podruchny
Our hearts are amazing organs. They pump right around 2,000 gallons of blood through your body in a day. Supporting your heart can be as simple as eating the right foods and moving your body daily. We’ve ranked the top five foods for heart health to help guide your next shopping trip.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been studied extensively for their heart health benefits. A review published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism mentions that omega 3 fatty acids have proven useful in lowering triglycerides, blood pressure, regulating arrhythmias and preventing plaque in the arteries.
Fish are gems for heart health. Their high levels of omega 3 fatty acids place them at the top of our list. Salmon, tuna, albacore, sardines, mackerel and herring are the fish with the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids They also mention that you should aim for 500mg of omega 3 fatty acids per day, or two servings of cold-water fish per week.
If you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish, don’t worry—we have just the seed for you and your heart. Hemp seeds contain an ideal ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids while being rich in essential fatty acids overall. They add a lovely crunch to salads and are easy to toss into your morning shake. You don’t need much more than a teaspoon to a tablespoon daily to protect your heart. Incorporate hemp seeds into your diet slowly to avoid digestive distress.
A handful of nuts, especially walnuts, should be your go-to snack for heart health. Overall, nuts have consistently proven how valuable they are to our hearts. A 2010 review published in the journal Nutrients reports that nuts decrease your chances of coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death and high blood pressure while lowering blood cholesterol. Walnuts contain levels of alpha lineic acid (ALA) that surpass all edible plants and are a great option to consider on your next shopping trip. Get 1 ounce of nuts in your diet a day to boost heart health.
Leafy greens make it to many of our lists, but spinach stands out because it’s a food high in nitrate. Nitrates in foods like spinach decrease arterial stiffness and help regulate blood pressure levels in a randomized, controlled trial published in Clinical Nutrition Research. One cup of spinach per day is a helpful, heart healthy serving. Spinach can be gently sautéed, made into a wholesome salad and is easy to add to smoothies.
Lastly, let’s address that sweet tooth. Lovers of dark chocolate rejoice! A 2017 meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients observed that one to six servings (1 serving is between 1 and 2 ounces) of dark chocolate a week has the potential to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The antioxidant flavanols present in dark chocolate reduce inflammation and blood pressure. If you are looking for a post-meal healthy sweet snack, look to dark chocolate with at least 72 percent cocoa as your tasty heart health ally.