Heart disease can be devastating to the victim as well as the family. Often, there are no outward symptoms to show that anything is wrong until it’s too late. Changing the diet can make a big difference in helping to prevent or control heart disease. Surprisingly, not all of the food changes are a sacrifice to make.
A surprising option to help with heart disease is chocolate. This doesn’t mean it’s alright to eat as much as you want, however. Some studies have shown that the cocoa in chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols that help reduce cell damage. These can ward off or control heart disease by lowering blood pressure and aiding in vascular health. Dark chocolate has more cocoa and would therefore be the healthier choice. However, using chocolate as a delicious tool to help fight heart disease is tricky. Because it has added fats and sugar, eating too much can cause other health problems such as weight gain, which contributes to heart disease. It’s recommended to keep the portion down to three ounces a day to avoid health risks. This provides 450 calories which will need to be reduced elsewhere throughout the day.
According to the Bean Institute, “Legumes or dry beans have been shown to improve serum lipid profiles in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) 1, 2 and a growing body of evidence supports the positive effects dietary legume consumption confers on health, particularly in relation to risk for CHD.” Replacing red meat with beans reduces the amount of saturated fats while maintaining healthy amounts of proteins and fiber one consumes, lowering the risk for heart disease.
Inflammation within blood vessels helps develop atherosclerosis that leads to heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel have been shown to reduce this inflammation, lowering the risk of heart disease and strokes. Herring, rainbow trout, tuna and Pacific oysters also have significant amounts of omega-3. Consuming these healthy fish twice a week is enough to help the heart while pleasing the taste buds. Avoid frying the fish to reduce the amounts of saturated fats.
British and Greek studies have shown the importance of drinking tea to maintain heart health. Both green and black tea may help reduce the building up of blood clots in the arteries while lowering LDL cholesterol levels. This could be because tea has high levels of antioxidants believed to help increase the health of the heart as well as the rest of the body.
Eating tree nuts may help lower the amount of high blood lipids that lead to heart disease. According to Dr. Joan Sabate of Loma Linda University, “the lipids-lowering benefits of eating nuts were seen especially in those who weighed less. There was a benefit to eating as low as a 1-ounce serving per day, but greatest benefits occurred when 20 percent of daily calories came from nuts.” Walnuts, as with fish, have been found to have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Other nuts high in important disease fighting nutrients include pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts.
Lowering the risk for heart disease doesn’t have to be all about sacrificing great tasting foods. Adding a few of these foods or using them to replace unhealthier choices may make a significant difference in a person’s quality of health. Making a few simple and tasty changes to the diet along with regular exercise will help keep the heart healthy.