25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods
These 25 foods are loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system.
Your Guide to Nutrients in Heart-Healthy Foods
Phytoestrogensare substances in plants (like flaxseed) that have a
weak estrogen-like action in the body. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the
risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help lower
total and LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure.
Phytosterols are plant sterols that chemically resemble cholesterol
-- and seem to reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts and seeds, including wheat
germ, have phytosterols.
Carotenoids are heart-protective antioxidants in many colorful fruits
and veggies. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene are
Polyphenols are another set of antioxidants that protect blood
vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol. Flavonoid
polyphenols include catechins, flavonones, flavonols, isoflavones, reservatrol,
and anthocyanins. Non-flavonoid polyphenols include ellagic acid (found
in all types of berries).
Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon) and
alpha-linolenic fatty acids (found in plant foods like walnuts) help
boost the immune system, reduce blood clots, and protect against heart attacks.
They also increase good HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries
from plaque buildup, are anti-inflammatories, and lower blood pressure.
B-complex vitamins -- like Vitamin B-12 (folate) and
vitamin B-6 -- protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis, or
hardening of the arteries. Niacin (vitamin B-3) helps increase HDL
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect cells from free
radical damage. Magnesium, potassium, and calcium help lower blood
pressure. Fiber-rich foods help lower cholesterol levels.