Can the contents of your kitchen seriously save your life? A growing body of research suggests that what you eat and drink can protect your body against myriad health woe. Studies have also shown that up to 70 percent of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.
“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a renowned cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.
There is just one little trick to turning your kitchen into a hub for heart health: Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is by varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains and other items you enjoy every day. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the world’s top foods for your heart—mix and match a handful of them every week to eat your way toward a healthier you.
This is a great source of Vitamin C, calcium and iron, which helps to reduce high blood pressure. Eat the skin, too, which is full of heart-healthy nutrients.
Wild salmon (not farmed)
Broiled, grilled or baked, this tasty, fleshy fish is replete with omega-3 fatty acids that improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also has a rich level of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection. (Of course, not all salmon is created equal: Find out what the ‘Invasion of The Frankenfish’ means for your health.)
These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety’s high salt content.
Liver contains fats that are good for the heart, says William Davis, MD, a Wisconsin-based preventive cardiologist and author of ‘Wheat Belly’. “That’s the way humans are scripted,” he says. “Primitive humans ate the entire animal. Livers contain a lot of fats and that’s healthy.”
The highly publicised benefits of eating your oatmeal have long shown it’s a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol. But eat only the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavoured oats are often drenched in processed sugar.
Caffeine junkies rejoice. According to Dr Agatston, studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Agatston says. (That’s not the only thing a cup of java can do. We’ve got four more coffee cures that will convince you to drink up.)
Back to the importance of resveratrol, a compound with antioxidant properties, which can also help prevent cancer. According to a recent study from the UK’s University of Leicester, resveratrol is found in dark-skinned berries and grapes. Madirans and Cabernets typically contain large amounts of procyanidins, an antioxidant that helps to reduce cholesterol and increases arterial health.