Replace processed snacks with a handful of nuts to reduce risk of a heart attack.
You can eat your way to a longer life with just a few everyday foods that will keep your heart healthy, experts say.
Though exercise is important too, eating these seven foods is said to help prevent heart disease, as well as boost general health. From pumpkin seeds to green tea, these are the foods and drinks we should try and eat every day.
1. Whole grains Eating more whole grains is an easy way to increase your lifespan. PICTURE: Supplied
Replacing white bread with bread containing whole grains could greatly reduce the risk of coronary disease and stroke, according to healthcare experts, who put together this list of foods to eat to improve heart health. Refining flour eliminates many of the health benefits otherwise found in whole grains, they say.
Nuts are high in fat and calories and are deliciously crunchy. PICTURE: Supplied
Nuts may be high in fat, but the monounsaturated fats they contain improve heart health. Studies have shown that a daily consumption of one portion of nuts reduces the risk of coronary disease. This effect is even more pronounced if the nuts are replacing processed snacks rich in sugar, saturated fats, or trans fats.
Dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease. PICTURE: Markus Spiske
Studies have shown that people who regularly consume 20 g or two squares of 70 per cent dark chocolate show a marked improvement in blood flow. But no improvement is observed in those who eat processed chocolate, which contains very little cocoa paste.
The health benefits of dark chocolate are linked to a property in its polyphenols which releases a chemical messenger - nitric oxide. That increases arterial dilatation, while at the same time improving blood flow and reducing platelet aggregation - boosting heart health.
The versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. PICTURE: Supplied
These are rich in vitamins B, especially B5, which is important for adrenal health. Its creamy texture may help reduce cravings as well, and, being rich in monounsaturated fat and protein, it may help to quell your appetite too.
Eating fish can be good for the heart and even for the brain. PICTURE: Supplied
Omega-3 oils can come from marine, animal and plant sources, but no matter where they come from, they greatly improve heart health. You should try to include omega-3 oils from all of these sources as part of a balanced diet.
6. Pumpkin seeds
These seeds are packed with stress-relieving magnesium which is good for heart health as stress levels can have a severe impact on the heart. The seeds also contain plenty of protein and healthy fats to keep those hunger cravings at bay and help with weight loss.
7. Green tea
Green tea may prolong your life through reducing heart disease. PICTURE: Supplied
A recent study has shown that drinking green tea rapidly improves the function of the endothelial cells lining the circulatory system. Endothelial dysfunction is what triggers the thickening of artery walls, which could then lead to heart disease.
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