10 Best Foods for Your Heart

spinachMaking the right food choices can do wonders for your health. The right foods can even help keep your heart healthy and protect it against diseases. Heart disease is one the leading health problems – and also one of the leading causes of death – among adults. To get your heart back in shape, include some or all of the top 10 best foods for your heart (as named by CNN Health), in your diet:

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It lowers (LDL) bad cholesterol levels, and helps keep arteries clear. When buying oatmeal, avoid the instant kind. Instead, reach for what CNN health describes as the "coarse or steel-cut" variety, as they contain more fiber.

Salmon

Another omega-3 fatty acid-rich food source, salmon can reduce blood pressure considerably and prevent clotting as well. Eating at least 2 servings of salmon a week may lower your risk of heart attack by up to 1/3. Aside from omega-3, salmon is also a good source of the carotenoid astaxanthin, a very powerful antioxidant, says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD. Opt for wild salmon over the farm-raised kind as these may be full of insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Avocado

Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat that can help lower LDL levels while raising HDL levels. Dr. Sinatra adds that avocados "allow for the absorption of other carotenoids — especially beta-carotene and lycopene — which are essential for heart health."

Olive Oil

Like avocados, olive oil is also rich in monounsaturated fats, thus it also reduces bad cholesterol levels, and your risk of developing heart disease. When buying olive oil, check if you’ve got the extra-virgin variety. Extra-virgin olive oils are "the least processed" which means they are healthier for you.

Nuts

Nuts are more than free airplane snacks. They are actually heart-friendly foods. Some nuts like almonds, macadamia nuts and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Plus, they increase fiber in the diet, adds Dr. Sinatra.

Berries

Generally, berries are a good source of vitamin C, a bit of calcium, magnesium, folate, potassium, phytochemicals, flavanoids and lutein, all of which can help fight a number of disease – even some cancers – and of course heart disease. A recent study from Finland found that some berries likebilberries, lingonberries, black currants and strawberries lower blood pressure by 7.3 mm HG, and increase HDL levels by more than 5 percent.

Legumes

Legumes and beans are full of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber which are good for the heart. Go for lentils, black beans and/or kidney beans.

Spinach

Spinach contains lots of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber which, not only makes you strong (a la Popeye), but also helps keep your heart healthy.

Flaxseed

So small yet so good for your heart. Flaxseed is packed with fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that a sprinkling of it can work wonders for you.

Soy

Soy is rich in fiber, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Soy, or soy protein, is a good alternative to meats that may contain saturated fat and cholesterol. Look for natural sources of soy, like tempeh, or organic silken tofu. Avoid the processed varieties which can have added sodium.

Source: CNN Health