Many things can contribute to good vascular health, but a key factor is what you put into your body. The food you eat can greatly affect the way your heart works. Since your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, it’s best you feed it only the finest.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We all know that too much fat is bad for you, but there are good fats out there that your body needs. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats that help improve heart function. They regulate blood clotting, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and prevent inflammation. Omega-3s are typically found in wild salmon and tuna, but are also found in other common foods.
Foods to eat: wild or fresh salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, walnuts, canola oil, flax oil, soybean oil
As kids we all probably hated eating vegetables, especially the green ones, but as adults you should learn to love them if you want to live a long, healthy life. Leafy greens have a high number of antioxidants and vitamins that help with heart function. Spinach provides necessary magnesium for proper muscle function. Bok choy and kale are high in fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol.
Foods to eat: spinach, bok choy, kale, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, mustard greens, collard greens.
Have you heard that you should eat the rainbow? Well, the saying is true: colorful veggies are great for a variety of reasons. Tomatoes have lycopene, which can reduce the risk of strokes. Corn has vitamins that keep artery walls from thickening. Orange bell peppers can help regulate blood pressure due their high levels of potassium.
Foods to eat: tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes
Eating fruit is a great way to lower your risk for vascular diseases. It makes for a delicious low-calorie snack, and can pack a great health punch. Most fruit is high in antioxidants like berries. Apples are a great source of vitamin C and fiber. Blackberries and blueberries are amazing for heart health and can easily be taken on the go as a snack.
Foods to eat: blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, apples, oranges, avocados
Who doesn’t love chocolate! It is commonly known as a sinful indulgence, but 70% or higher dark chocolate can be a lifesaver. It is known for lowering high blood pressure, and is rich with antioxidants the darker you go. Chocolate does still contain sugar, so make sure to nosh this one in moderation.
Soy has had its ups and downs in the media lately, but organic soy consumed in moderation can have an amazing ability to help your heart stay healthy. Many soy products do not contain cholesterol or saturated fats, so soy milk makes a great replacement in your morning coffee. Tofu is packed with protein without the saturated fat from animal products.
Foods to eat: organic non-GMO tofu, edamame, soy milk
Tea, especially green tea, is a great diet addition for good vascular health. Tea has flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Grains such as oats and the newly popular quinoa are a great way to get extra fiber, magnesium and zinc. These minerals are essential to heart health by helping to improve blood flow and prevent arterial blockages.
Foods to eat: quinoa, steel cut oats, brown rice, barley, whole wheat
Nuts and seeds have tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. Good heart health starts with good whole foods, and nuts and seeds are amazing whole foods. Make sure to get raw, unprocessed versions of them, and they will make a healthy snack. A great do-it-yourself trail mix is almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds. If you need a little zest, you can add a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt. Nuts and seeds can also be used in yogurt, or as salad toppers instead of croutons.
Foods to eat: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds
Beans have been shown to reduce cholesterol, and are high in fiber and minerals. Beans also keep you feeling full longer, so you don’t crave food that may be bad for you. They are great as an addition to a meal or as a meal of their own. Incorporating them into your diet is a tasty way to improve your heart health.
Foods to eat: lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, green peas, fava beans
To find out more about vascular health and treatments for vascular disorders, contact the trained physicians at Baton Rouge Vascular Specialty Center. Call (225) 769-4493 or schedule a consultation today.