Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America today, and many people are looking for ways to better protect their hearts through diet. The good news is that there are plenty of heart-healthy "superfoods" out there that can get the job done, and the following are some of your best options:
Salmon: Oily fish in general are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that decrease the risk of heart conditions like atherosclerosis and arrhythmia, while lowering triglyceride levels and improving cholesterol levels.
Blueberries: Rich in anthocyanin and flavonoid antioxidants, blueberries are a great way to protect against heart disease. One study found that they help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 32 percent.
Oatmeal: An excellent source of soluble fiber, oatmeal helps scrub the digestive tract and lower circulating cholesterol levels, both of which help protect the circulatory system.
Dark chocolate: Chocolate is another great source of heart-protective flavonoids and polyphenols – and when it comes to the best types, the darker the better! Dark chocolate consisting of at least 60–70 percent cocoa has been shown to help lower blood pressure and inflammation while also preventing blood clots.
Citrus fruits: Vitamin C is heart-protective, and citrus fruits are abundant in it. They also contain their own unique flavonoid profiles that have been shown to help lower the risk of ischemic stroke.
Tomatoes: Rich in the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene, tomatoes help lower the risk of heart attack by dilating blood vessels. They also help clean up "bad" cholesterol.
Legumes: Regular consumption of green beans, peas, lentils and other legumes has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent. Legumes also help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Green tea: Another excellent source of antioxidants, this staple of Asian libation has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by as much as 20 percent.
Nuts: Whether it's almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans, nuts contain an assortment of fiber, vitamins and fats, all of which are heart-protective. Studies show that their vitamin E and omega-3 content in particular are what make nuts so beneficial in maintaining heart health.
Red wine: A rich source of resveratrol, red wine can actually help promote heart health and longevity when consumed in moderation. Resveratrol, which is found primarily in grape skins, has been shown to protect the endothelial lining of arteries while minimizing oxidative stress.
Potatoes: They often get a bad rap because they're high in starch, but potatoes also contain high levels of heart-protective potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure. Potatoes also contain fiber, which helps protect against heart disease.
Leafy green vegetables: Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, leafy green vegetables do wonders for the heart and circulatory system, helping to rid the body of inflammation-causing free radicals and other toxins.
Coffee: Believe it or not, this morning elixir has been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by as much as 30 percent. Just be sure to look for organic varieties that are low in mycotoxins.
Chia seeds: This omega-3-rich superfood is a panacea for lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. Chia seeds and many of the other foods mentioned here are available from the Health Ranger Store.
Avocados: Rich in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and fiber, avocados are an excellent food for lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels and maintaining overall heart health.
Pomegranates: A "best in class" fruit when it comes to heart health, the pomegranate has been aggressively studied for its amazing ability to minimize oxidative stress, support the production and activity of vasodilating nitric oxide and lower LDL cholesterol levels.