Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada (48,000 deaths in 2012 alone), and about 2.4 million Canadian adults live with heart disease (1). While we can’t change our genetics, we can control a lot of factors that put us at greater risk for heart disease. Exercise, stress, and diet are a few of the big ones. Let’s talk about 5 foods that will keep that blood pumping!
Walnuts These brainy looking nuts will show up on any heart health list! They are full of omega-3’s, a heart-healthy fat that lowers inflammation in the body, keeping the arteries clear and flowing. Salmon and other fatty fish are also a good source of omega-3’s.
Oats Oats are high in soluble fibre which helps remove excess cholesterol from the body. By sweeping it along and excreting it from the body it doesn’t end up in the bloodstream where it can damage blood vessels.
Goji Berries These small dried red berries are packed with antioxidants which scavenge around the body searching for free radicals that can cause damage to the arteries. If damage occurs macrophages and other cells try to clean up the debris and create a patch over the area which then leads to blockages. Having an adequate supply of antioxidants in the body can help prevent this from happening. Other berries such as blueberries and strawberries are also great sources.
Dark Chocolate This one is exciting for all the chocolate lovers out there! Dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) has polyphenols which are compounds that can help lower blood pressure and inflammation. More and more research is coming out in this area so stay tuned! There’s also evidence that red wine has polyphenols which fight heart disease too.
Avocado You’ve probably heard the buzz about avocados by now. They have monounsaturated fats in them which have been linked to lowering cholesterol (the “bad” type, LDL cholesterol) in the body. They also provide potassium which helps regulate blood pressure.
1. Government of Canada (2017). Heart Disease-heart health. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/heart-disease-heart-health.html