By Dr. Gabrielle Francis
Although Superfoods have been around for a long time, it's only recently that researchers have documented their benefits for those with high cholesterol or heart disease. Certain superfoods are great for keeping your heart healthy while others are not. Some can help lower cholesterol reduce inflammation, and slow the formation of plaque — to prevent heart disease But some, taken in large doses, can aggravate a heart condition or interact with heart medication.
So which superfoods are good for your heart and which would need to be used with caution?
Chia Seeds Are Sprouting with Nutrients
Chia seeds contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids of any plant-based food. That's good news for your heart, because omega-3 fatty acids help people with high cholesterol by lowering triglycerides n the blood, and also lower the risk of abnormal heart rhythms. This superfood is also loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants, protein, and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, and Soluble fiber.
Green Tea Packs an Antioxidant Punch
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols and catechins, which can prevent cell damage and protect you from heart disease. Studies have shown that tea drinkers have fewer major heart events like heart attack and stroke, compared with people who don't drink tea. If your doctor has told you to limit caffeine due to a heart condition, you should look for caffeine-free green tea to reduce your intake of the stimulant.
Quinoa Is a Nutrition Powerhouse
The Incas first discovered quinoa roughly 4,000 years ago in what is now South America. Quinoa is a good superfood to try because it's a gluten-free whole grain, is rich in minerals, and has high protein value, with 8 grams (g) per cup cooked. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids found in meat, including lysine, an amino acid essential for tissue growth and repair. Because whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of Heart Disease. Try adding quinoa to muffins, pancakes, salads, soups, and risotto to increase the whole grains in your diet.
Nuts Cut Risk of Heart Disease
The Healthy fats ound in nuts put them high on the list of foods that are good for your heart. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans are among the superfoods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to potentially prevent dangerous heart rhythms and reduce the risk of developing blood clots. Adding nuts to your diet can lower your blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol — to help prevent heart disease.
To get the best of their health benefits, do not to go nuts with nuts. By eating a lot of nuts you can gain weight in the abdomen area, increasing your risk of obesity and heart disease. Try eating 1 ounce of nuts per day in place of a sugary snack.
Dark Chocolate May Lower Heart Attack and Stroke Risk
Don’t feel bad about reaching for that occasional piece of dark chocolate—studies show that it can benefit your heart. The flavonoids in dark chocolate could help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation. Consuming dark chocolate (containing at least 60 to 70 percent cocoa) could reduce heart attacks and strokes for people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. In terms of helping the heart you don’t want to hurt the waistline. Having a square or two of dark chocolate is better than a bowl of ice cream.
Fatty Fish Give a Dose of Omega-3s
Fatty fish, such as salmon, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, and herring, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help control high blood pressure, reduce irregular heartbeats like atrial fibrillation and decrease your risk of stroke and heart failure. Eating just one to two servings of fish per week can lower your risk of dying from heart disease. But when selecting fish, avoid those known to be high in mercury, a cardio toxin, found in shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Berries May Widen Arteries and Prevent Plaque Buildup
Blueberries, strawberries, goji, and açaí berries are all superfoods thanks to their flavonoids, which can lower blood pressure and dilate blood vessels, helping with circulation. Strawberries and blueberries also contain high levels of a compound that can help widen the arteries and prevent plaque buildup. And citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, contain a lot of vitamin C, which can lower your risk of heart disease. The sooner you eat the fruit after it’s picked, the more nutrients it will contain.
Be aware that grapefruit can interfere with multiple medications, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-arrhythmic medication, and blood pressure drugs. In addition, grapefruit and goji berries in the diet can act as blood thinners so people taking blood thinners should check with their doctor to see if they need to limit or avoid these fruits.
This Superfood Isn’t All Starch
Potatoes have a bad reputation for being high in calories. But white, red, purple, and sweet spuds are rich in potassium, fiber, calcium, and B vitamins like B6 and folic acid(folate). These can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk heart attack and stroke. Cook potatoes with the skin on since it contains the highest amount of nutrients. Quercetin, a flavonoid in potato skin, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Potatoes get their bad rap because of the toppings we tend to load on It’s all about the company you keep. Use a fat-free Greek yogurt as a topping for your potato instead of butter and sour cream, both of which are laden with the saturated fats that can increase high cholesterol.
Beans Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Beans are one of the most underrated superfoods. Black, pinto, and kidney beans have soluble fibers that are good for the heart and could help lower cholesterol. They’re inexpensive and easy to make and store. You can also eat canned beans. If you wash the beans first, you get rid of up to 40 percent of the sodium.”
Cauliflower Is Rich in Vitamin C
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, and cabbage, are good sources of vitamin C. Having cruciferous veggies in the diet can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Folic acid, which is also found in cruciferous vegetables, can reduce cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Leafy greens and foods high in vitamin K make your blood clot more quickly and could limit certain blood thinners from doing what they're supposed to do. That doesn’t mean you should cut cruciferous vegetables from your diet completely if you're taking blood thinners. It’s important not to avoid these foods, but keep a consistent intake, eating about the same amount in your diet each day.