Your heart is the life force of your body, so it goes without saying just how important it is to take care of it. While exercising has a profound effect on reducing the risk of heart disease, it’s only one part of a two-part approach to keeping your heart strong and healthy. The second part you need to consider is your diet.
Even though many people insist that foods that are good for your heart are bland and boring, these 5 foods are not only great for your heart but downright delicious.
Fish in general is one of the best foods you can eat for your heart because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body and, as a result, lower your blood pressure and keep blood vessels from becoming damaged. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease. Salmon is the best type of fish to eat because it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and it tastes great. When given the choice, always opt for wild salmon because farm-raised salmon are often full of pesticides and hormones.
Recommended recipe: Baked salmon with lemon
The crunchy nut is filled with ingredients that are great for your body, and hundreds of studies have linked eating a handful of almonds on a daily basis to a decrease in heart disease. Almonds contain magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B2 and zinc. They have even been found to decrease LDL cholesterol, the kind often associated with heart disease.
Recipe: Handful of roasted almonds as a snack
Nearly all berries are great for your heart, but blueberries are often touted as superfoods because of their antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C levels. A study in 2009 even preliminarily found that blueberries may even slow chronic heart failure because they increase blood flow. Blueberries are especially beneficial to women’s hearts.
Recipe: Greek yogurt with blueberries
Leafy greens are another big category of foods that are good for your heart, but spinach is the most nutritious. Spinach is basically another superfood because of all it packs into it, including B vitamins, lutein, folate, potassium, calcium and more. Studies have shown that spinach will help reduce the risk of heart attacks, but further studies have also shown eating spinach will help you survive a heart attack if it does actually occur. The reasoning is that nitrite, a component found in spinach and other leafy greens, helps speed up recovery.
Recipe: Almond spinach salad
Yes, you read that right, chocolate. We often associate eating chocolate with something that’s more of a guilty pleasure than something that could actually be good for us. However, a recent study found that there was a 37% lower risk of heart disease in those that regularly ate chocolate. The large-scale study didn’t necessarily research why, but previous studies have found a lot of great components in chocolate. For example, chocolate contains polyphenols, an antioxidant that increases the production of a chemical that allows blood flow to improve. Even though the large-scale study didn’t determine what type of chocolate the participants were eating, past studies have shown that dark chocolate is the best kind of chocolate.
Recipe: Chocolate-covered strawberries
Bonus: Red wine
Red wine is a bonus because it’s not necessarily a food, but it’s something you could drink along with your food on occasion. Doctors have long championed the health benefits of red wine, which contains the antioxidant resveratrol. Resveratrol apparently reduces LDL cholesterol and reduces inflammation and blood clotting. As everything, red wine should be consumed in moderation and should not be seen as a main way to boost the strength of your heart.