More and more women are taking control of their health and adopting fitness and meal plans to better themselves, which comes along with a whole host of benefits for a healthy mind and body. Even better still, a growing body of research suggests that you could prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns by simply eating the right foods. If you really want to boost your heart health and overall mental and physical condition, try adding these seven superfoods to your diet.
You’re probably already familiar with the concept of “good” fats versus “bad” fats, and that difference is exactly what makes salmon so great for your heart. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease when consumed regularly (Circulation). Additionally, the high selenium content found in salmon has antioxidant properties that can also aid in heart disease prevention.
Walnuts are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s, making them an excellent addition to a vegetarian diet. These powerful nuts also contain plenty of fiber, vitamin E and the amino acid L-arginine, which may help to strengthen the cells that make up your artery walls, reducing the likelihood that blood clots will develop (Journal of the American College of Cardiology).
The flavonoids that give blueberries their characteristic blue color are the same compounds that make them and most berries so beneficial to your heart health. Flavonoids, along with the resveratrol in the skin of blueberries, have been shown to increase “good” cholesterol levels (high-density lipoproteins) while simultaneously protecting your arteries against damage and potential blood clots (California Agriculture).
4. Green Tea
Green tea seems to have been stealing the superfood spotlight lately, and for good reason. Not only does it provide excellent antioxidant benefits that may treat a wide range of health issues, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and digestive problems, but it can also play a major role in reducing your risk of heart disease. Research suggests that the catechins that green tea can prevent the harmful oxidation of free radicals in your body, reduce vascular inflammation, and control vascular reactivity (Current Medicinal Chemistry).
If you thought that it was too good to be true that chocolate could be healthy for your heart, think again! Chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow, which can contribute to a healthier and better protected cardiovascular system. While much of the research on the connection between chocolate and heart health seems to point only to the benefits of dark chocolate, recent studies may suggest that all chocolate may benefit your heart (Heart). Of course, just be sure to follow the rule of thumb that everything is best in moderation.
As it turns out, your parents’ prodding you to eat your broccoli wasn’t just for their health–it’s for yours. Broccoli is low in cholesterol and high in fiber and antioxidants, making it the perfect heart-healthy food. Fiber has been linked with lower “bad” cholesterol levels, improved blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy, stable weight (Harvard Health Publications). All of these benefits combine to promote a healthy heart and body.
While oranges and other citrus fruits have become famous for their high vitamin C content, they also contain hesperidin, a flavonoid that has been shown to improve blood flow and promote healthy heart function (PLoS One).
The Bottom Line
When it comes to your cardiovascular health, don’t underestimate the power of a heart-healthy diet. By swapping out refined sugars, simple carbohydrates and red meats for these seven superfoods, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and significantly improve your overall mental and physical health and quality of life. Remember that what you put into your body matters, so make healthy, conscious choices to see noticeable results!
To learn more about heart health tips for women, consider taking part in the Women’s Health Conversations 2016 Conference, which will be held in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference addresses all things related to women’s health, from nutrition, to breast health, to pain management, so there really is something for everyone. Take a look at the registration page for more details and to find out how to become a part of the women’s health conversation yourself.