Fighting heart disease is not all about medication and surgery—lifestyle changes like a healthy diet are just as important! While there are lots of nutritious options out there, some foods protect against heart disease better than others.
These five heart-healthy foods are by no means the only ones out there, but they are some of the best and most widely available you’ll find in your fight against heart disease. Here's a look at how to create your preventative heart disease diet.
Beans should be a staple of everyone’s diet. They’re inexpensive, tasty, and a great way to fight off heart disease. Their biggest benefit has to do with their high soluble fiber content—which has been shown to lower your LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels. Since high cholesterol is one of the primary causes of heart disease, you can see why beans should be a staple for any heart-conscious consumer. While the nutritional content of different kinds of beans will vary slightly, there aren’t any significant differences between them, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find a variety you really like.
Like beans, apples are full of cholesterol-fighting soluble fiber, but their heart benefits don’t stop there! Apples are digested slowly by the body, which means that even though they have a relatively high sugar content, they don’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes, making them perfect for people looking to prevent diabetes. Because this condition is one of the many risk factors for heart disease, it makes sense to include them in a heart-healthy diet.
While most species of fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is the undisputed king. Omega-3's are vital for keeping your arteries free from plaque buildup, which can contribute to heart attack or stroke, and this wonder fish is full of them. When possible, choose wild-caught salmon over the farmed variety, because it contains more of these healthy fats.
Avocado, like salmon, is chock full of healthy fatty acids, and they’re a great choice if you’re a vegetarian or just not a fan of fish. In addition to this, they’re also full of fiber and folate—two things that are essential for good heart health. Unfortunately, avocados are higher in calories than most fruits, which means that you want to include them sparingly in your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Pumpkins aren’t just great for jack-o-laterns—they’re also a great addition to a heart-healthy diet! These fall favorites are high in fiber, which is good for keeping high cholesterol at bay, but they’re also full of beta-carotene. This nutrient is converted into vitamin A by the body and has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Pumpkins can be used in pies, soups, and a number of other warm, tasty treats that are perfect for a chilly autumn day!