To keep this vital organ functioning properly, there are several food options to include in your daily diet.
Medical Advisor Amida Carvajal, clinical nutritionist & dietitian
The function of the heart is to keep the body moving by pumping blood constantly throughout it, making it possible to keep a person alive. Because it is such a vital organ, it is important to keep your heart healthy by practicing regular exercise, managing stress and leading a balanced diet with foods that keep it functioning well. Nutritionist Amida Carvajal has selected 10 foods to eat on a daily basis, which due to their properties, will help keep this organ functioning properly.
This grain is rich in protein and polyunsaturated fats (a healthy type of dietary fat) which, when consumed daily, lowers cholesterol and improves your bowel function due to its high fiber content. It is also a good source of Beta-glucans (soluble fiber) which helps to absorb cholesterol and the bile acids in the intestine. Recommended amount: 3 tablespoons.
These are rich in antioxidants (phytosterols), vitamin E, fatty acids and omega 3, all of which are essential for neural function and for reducing the risk of heart disease. Recommended amount: 30 g.
Turmeric, one of the ingredients in curry, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the risk of cardiac hypertrophy (an enlarged heart). Consume daily.
- Green tea
Green tea is healthy because it reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 10% due to its antioxidant qualities.
Recommended amount: 1 cup
This fruit is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). It is also a good source of vitamin E and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, one of the main factors that contribute to cardiovascular risk, heart attacks and kidney failure.
Recommended amount: half a small avocado
- Virgin olive oil
This is a healthy fat. It contains monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, is rich in vitamin E and contains hydroxytyrosol, an antioxidant that is good for your cardiovascular health as it prevents fat oxidization and helps reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
Recommended amount: 2 tablespoons
Fish such as salmon, tuna and trout are especially heart-healthy because they are rich in omega 3, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. These protect your heart health and reduce the risk of death related to heart disease.
Recommended amount: Consume at least 3 times a week
This vegetable is rich in lycopene, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties that become stronger when cooked. Some studies have connected tomatoes with helping to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. It is also anti-inflammatory and has an antithrombotic effect.
Eat on a daily basis.
- Grapes / Red wine
The consumption of these products has been connected to a lower risk of chronic heart disease and cancer. They contain phytochemical compounds (which means they are produced by plants) such as resveratrol, which lowers “bad” cholesterol (LDL). The polyphenols and antioxidants found in wine improve circulation and slow the aging process.
Recommended amount: 1 glass for women and 2 glasses for men
- Dark chocolate
Especially chocolate that is made with 70% cacao. The flavonoids from the family of polyphenols that chocolate contains help lower blood pressure and blood lipid profile (cholesterol and triglycerides), contributing to maintaining healthy cardiovascular health.
Recommended amount: 1 cup of hot chocolate
A few definitions
- Cholesterol: A waxy substance similar to the fat found in all the cells of the body. It produces hormones, vitamin D and substances that help digest food. There are two types: Good cholesterol (HDL) transports cholesterol from other parts of the body to the liver and then eliminates it; bad cholesterol (LDL) has a high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that builds up in the arteries.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: A type of fat and energy source for the nervous system. These are anti-inflammatory and protect against different types of cancer.
- Carotenoid: Is a yellow, red or orange substance that is mostly found in plants, including carrots, dark green leafy vegetables and in many fruits, grains and oils.
- Polyphenols: A substance produced by plants that contains antioxidant properties.
- Flavonoids: Constituent compounds of the non-energetic part of the human diet. They are found in vegetables, seeds and fruits.
See also: 5 foods that lower cholesterol