The statistics are clear: heart attack and stroke are among the leading causes of death in all countries of the world. This is also the case in Italy. However, you can prevent these diseases by adopting a healthy lifestyle. If you exercise every day and eat healthy, you greatly reduce the incidence of risk factors, giving you a healthy life even in old age. Here is a list of all the foods that help the heart.
Foods that are good for the heart
The list shown here is not in order of importance, first of all.
Walnuts and almonds
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help purify and protect the arteries from inflammation, responsible for serious diseases. Use walnuts and almonds as a snack instead of the saturated fats found in many industrial preparations.
Low-fat yogurt, perhaps Greek yogurt, is part of a balanced diet: it strengthens bones and the immune system, but above all it keeps blood pressure under control thanks to calcium and potassium.
Extra virgin olive oil
For some time now, fats have been reevaluated for their importance in a healthy and balanced diet. But there are healthy fats and health-threatening fats. Extra virgin olive oil, which is part of our culinary tradition, is rightfully on the podium of healthy fats. It can lower cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system and contribute to the figure. All decisive elements for the health of our heart.
Extra-dark chocolate at least 70% is good for the heart thanks to the content of resveratrol and phenols which help to naturally lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate has calories, it must be consumed in moderation.
Salmon, tuna and mackerel
Fish belongs to the culinary tradition of the areas of the world where you live the longest. The omega-3s present in large quantities in salmon, mackerel, tuna and trout reduce triglycerides in the blood, lower the risk of arrhythmias and counteract the formation of plaques in the arteries.
As a rule, I advise against the consumption of alcohol, except occasionally. The classic meal glass of red wine, which is part of our culinary tradition, however, has a scientific basis: the wine is rich in resveratrol, which has a protective purpose against oxidative processes (heart health and aging are linked).
Sweet potatoes and tomato
Sweet potatoes contain fiber and lycopene, a substance found in foods such as tomatoes. Promotes the formation of antioxidants against cellular aging induced by free radicals (source).
Red, yellow and green vegetables
Like tomatoes, carrots, red and green peppers are rich in fiber and vitamins that are good for the heart. Swiss chard is rich in magnesium and potassium, antioxidants and lutein.
Cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries
Fruits rich in antioxidants such as berries and cherries. In addition, fruits rich in beta-carotene such as oranges.
Legumes: black beans
Rich in fiber that keep cholesterol under control and help lower blood sugar. They contain antioxidants and magnesium that help fight high blood pressure.
Barley and brown rice
Rice can be replaced by brown rice or alternatively by barley, due to the fiber content they contain. It lowers blood sugar and is good for circulation.
I recommend using aromatic herbs to flavor dishes, so as to limit the use of salt. It is an indirect benefit, but of inestimable value. Thyme, sage, mint, oregano and rosemary should always be present in your kitchen.
Foods that are bad for the heart
Finally, a brief digression on what you really shouldn’t eat regardless, especially if you have heart health problems.
- All added sugars, even in the form of syrup. Sugar is present in many prepackaged industrial foods, added for flavor. Carbonated drinks which are rich in sugar should be avoided.
- Sweets should also be limited. They lead to weight gain, increased blood sugar circulation and raise the triglyceride rate.
- Unrefined white cereals and flours. Pasta is part of the Mediterranean diet, but it can be eaten whole, avoiding an excess of processing that eliminates fibers and raises the glycemic peak. The same goes for bread.
- For the same reason, it is good to avoid sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas and fried street food, which often falls into the less noble category of junk food. Avoid both grocery bag chips and fried ones. They should be avoided or eaten in extreme moderation. The same goes for fried chicken and breading in general.
- No to yogurt flavored with some fruit. It is basically sugar with added yogurt. And not even with butter, if not in limited portions. Better to use EVO oil. Also limit the ice cream, especially the industrial one present in the supermarket departments.
- Saturated fats and overly salty foods. This combination is almost always found in processed foods you find in the supermarket. Even in sausages. You can and should consume healthier unsaturated fats and source protein from vegetables, legumes and more tender, healthier meats, including fish.
- Excess red meats and sausages.
- Pre-packaged foods such as soups, meats and cubes to flavor or make broth.
Learn to better manage your health, strengthening it with targeted interventions, knowing which foods and eating habits make you feel better.