The number one leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. This silent killer can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. In fact, approximately 600,000 people die from heart disease every year. Smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all lead to heart disease in many people. It also has co-morbidity with diabetes, obesity, poor diet, excessive alcohol use, and lack of exercise. Although it affects both men and women, men were responsible for more than half of the deaths caused by heart disease.
Medical experts are stressing the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid the incidence of heart attack, and coronary heart disease. Besides exercising a regular basis, eating heart healthy foods is an essential way people can protect themselves. While research continues to reveal new foods that benefit the heart and circulatory system, there are certain foods that can improve the function and health of your heart.
Adding any of these heart healthy foods to your smoothie is a good idea. Well, except for Salmon.
- Yogurt: Eating yogurt on a regular basis can lead to healthy gums. Research shows that gum disease can elevate your risk for heart disease. The live probiotic cultures contained in yogurt help to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the oral cavity. When buying yogurt, make sure to purchase a brand that contains live cultures.
- Raisins: Rich in antioxidants, raisins also prevent harmful bacteria from developing around the gums. While 50% of Americans have been diagnosed with gum disease, researchers have been studying its correlation with heart related problems.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains contain large amounts of antioxidants, phytosterols, and phytoestrogens. All have been found to protect against coronary artery disease. They also contain heart healthy fiber. Make sure to add plenty of barley, beans, eggplant, and oatmeal into your diet.
- Beans: Adding a half cup of beans to your daily eating regimen can help to reduce your cholesterol. As the beans are being processed, they help bind cholesterol, and keep it from being absorbed. They also help clean out the intestines.
- Salmon: Oily types of fish contain an element known as Omega 3 fatty acids. This amazing component can actually help to keep the heart beating regularly. They lower levels of blood clotting materials within the blood. You can also get Omega 3 acids from flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
- Chocolate: Dark chocolate is laced with a component known as flavanols, which encourage the healthy function of the blood vessels. It has a blood thinning effect which enables the blood to pump smoothly throughout the circulatory system.
- Tomatoes: High in lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and potassium, tomatoes are a super food. Try to eat them uncooked, as cooking them diminishes their lycopene and antioxidant content.
- Apples: After conducting a study following over 9,000 people over the course of 28 years, researchers have found that eating apples can reduce the incidence of stroke. They prevent the LDL in the blood from oxidizing; therefore, inhibiting inflammation and plaque from forming on the lining of the vessels.
- Berries: Want to increase your HDL cholesterol and lower your blood pressure? Simply add a cup of mixed berries into your daily diet for 8 weeks. You’ll notice the health benefits. Make sure to add plenty of black currants, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other berries into your diet.
- Pomegranates: Not only do pomegranates lower blood pressure, but they help reduce harmful plaque buildup. After researching antioxidant levels in cranberry juice, blueberry juice, and red wine, pomegranates have shown to have the highest levels.
- Green Tea: By drinking 12 ounces of green tea daily, you can reduce your risk of heart attacks. Researchers have studied the Japanese, who have a low occurrence of heart disease. The catechins in the tea are thought to reduce the body’s inflammatory response.
- Wine: By drinking alcohol in moderation, you can raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, thin the blood, and decrease inflammation. Estrogens levels also increase, which is shown to protect the heart. Women who have experienced menopause can often decrease their risk for developing heart issues by drinking a glass of red wine in moderation.
Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals can actually help to elongate your life. Not only does it keep you at a healthy weight, but it enhances the performance of your vital body organs and systems. Next time you are at the grocery store, consider adding some of these heart-healthy foods to your shopping cart.
Here is a list of some of our healthy smoothies.