The best and worst foods for heart health, according to doctors

The best and worst foods for heart health, according to doctors

Despite the recent movement toward body positivity and neutrality, when we talk about “good” and “bad” foods as a society, we still tend to focus on whether they will make us gain weight or help us lose it. But there’s a lot of talk about how many calories a particular food contains, and when it comes to heart health, one thing is very clear: Not all foods are created equal.

Some foods are really good for your heart, some aren’t good (but not terrible either), and some are totally bad. So, what foods should you eat to improve heart health, and which foods should you avoid? We spoke with cardiologists and dietitians — here’s what to consider.

Best foods for heart health

First, let’s focus on the positives – the foods you should eat if you want to improve our heart health. They include:

We know, and we know: The idea that you should eat green leafy vegetables isn’t new or exciting. But most of us don’t get enough of them, which are essential for a healthy heart.

“Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choy, and cabbage are a key component of a heart-healthy diet, something most of us don’t get enough of,” he explained. Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwala former chief of cardiac surgery and currently working as a medical consultant at hello heart. Several studies have shown a lower incidence of heart disease with increased intake of green vegetables. Foods like spinach are heart-healthy foods because they are high in potassium, folate, and magnesium.”

He points out that folic acid is an essential vitamin for heart health. “It helps break down homocysteine, an amino acid in our blood that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.”

Salmon is an excellent heart-healthy food, too. “Salmon is a common source of omega-3 fatty acids,” he said. Dr. Marianela Arises, a cardiologist at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown before Research It has anti-inflammatory effects, reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and has a positive effect in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Beans, cauliflower and lentils

Foods high in fiber double, such as beans, broccoli, and lentils, can benefit the heart. “These foods have been shown to lower cholesterol,” Ariks said.

These foods also contain plant sterols and stanols, which are naturally occurring compounds similar to cholesterol, which studies have found can reduce cholesterol. Plant sterols and stanols can also be found in fruits such as blueberries and apples.

Aggarwal said whole grains such as quinoa, whole wheat, oats and barley are healthy carbohydrates that reduce the risk of heart disease. “Quinoa is an excellent heart-healthy food choice and is a great alternative to white rice. Not only is it rich in protein, it’s also rich in potassium and fiber—both of which help people maintain healthy blood pressure and lower cholesterol.”

It’s very good news for avocado lovers.

Another reason to eat avocado? Yes please! “Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that can improve cholesterol and reduce inflammation,” Agarwal said. Several studies have shown the positive effects of avocado in lowering the bad form of cholesterol (LDL), which leads to plaque buildup in the arteries and an increased risk of heart disease. Like quinoa, it can be effective when controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels due to its high amounts of fiber and potassium.

Are you looking for something super specific that will benefit the heart? Load the nut. The registered dietitian explained: “Studies have shown that regular consumption of walnuts can reduce LDL or LDL cholesterol.” Clean Bogden.

The worst foods for heart health

Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad — and unfortunately, there are some really tasty foods that aren’t good for your heart. They include:

Processed meat can be really tasty (who doesn’t love hot dogs?) but it’s not very good for your heart. “Eating small amounts can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Agarwal said. “Processed meats are often high in unhealthy saturated fats. Even low-fat options tend to have high levels of sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure.”

Sorry, but all that sugar isn’t good for heart health. “These items are full of sugars as well as saturated and trans fats,” Ariks said. “A diet rich in sugar harms our health in many different ways including raising triglyceride and insulin levels and contributing to being overweight or obese, which in turn can lead to prediabetes or diabetes. All of these are known risk factors for heart disease.”

You may want to limit these rewards to the cautious side of moderation. “Fried foods add unhealthy fats and salt,” Agarwal said. “Trans fats worsen a person’s cholesterol level by raising the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering the level of good cholesterol (HDL). Study participants who ate more fried foods were more likely to die from coronary artery disease, as reported in the American Journal for clinical nutrition.”

Foods classified as low-fat or fat-free

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But according to Aggarwal, these types of foods are not good for heart health. “Foods labeled as low-fat or fat-free give the impression that you are healthy, but it may be quite the opposite,” he said. “To maintain taste, as fat is eliminated, more sugar is pumped in. Read food labels to see how many grams of sugar can be added as a substitute for fat. Many types of natural fats are healthy, so no fat isn’t necessarily healthier! Sugars and Carbs Refined increases the risk of heart disease.”

Think twice before you think that diet soda is better for your heart than regular soda.

Mario Tama via Getty Images

Think twice before you think that diet soda is better for your heart than regular soda.

If you thought diet soda was the answer to your health problems, think again—these drinks may be calorie-free, but they don’t do great things for your heart. “While many turn to diet soda to improve their health, the exact opposite can be true with chronic consumption,” Bogden said. “Artificial sweeteners are not only sweeter than table sugar, making you crave more sugar, which can lead to chronic inflammation, but studies are beginning to emerge that suggest artificial sweeteners can harm the balance of our digestive system, thus promoting inflammation and increasing the risk of having diseases “.

If you consume a lot of highly salty foods, beware. “A diet rich in sodium has adverse effects on blood pressure, kidney function and physiological fluid regulation,” EchlinDr Dr. Viken ZetjianAnd the Cardiologist. “Most processed and commercial foods are high in sodium, so limited consumption is recommended to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

A word about moderation

As the saying goes, “everything in moderation”. But does this apply to foods that are bad for heart health? “A healthy diet is all about moderation, and keeping your heart healthy goes beyond your diet,” Aggarwal said. “People need to evaluate their lifestyle choices, exercise habits, stress levels and more in order to properly manage their heart health. Regarding your diet, you can certainly indulge in ‘bad’ foods occasionally, if they are moderate and balanced with lifestyle choices. Other health. Make indulgence the rare exception, not the rule.”

So you have the command: you Can Indulge yourself in hot dogs and crackers this summer, just don’t go crazy. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to eat salmon and leafy greens!

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