Warnings about foods that harm your heart abound: fried potatoes, greasy burgers, cream-rich pasta… But here’s a look at four fabulous foods that do your heart a world of good. The great thing is, they are all easily available and not expensive. Chances are, you are already enjoying them in your daily diet. If yes, rejoice, because they come with loads of heart-healthy benefits. If not, put them on your menu.
Hazelnuts: While most tree nuts are known to be beneficial for health, hazelnuts in particular have been found to heal the heart. They have a high concentration of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that can reduce your blood pressure, prevent strokes, and save you from heart attacks. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating 30 grams of whole, ground, or powdered hazelnuts per day for four weeks can help raise your good cholesterol (HDL), lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and thus bring down your total cholesterol, which damages the arteries and contributes to plaque build-up.
Garlic: Numerous studies have shown that garlic can reduce blood pressure and help unclog the arteries. According to scientists at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, the compounds in garlic may play a significant role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Garlic lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and brings down blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians found that after just four weeks there was a 12 percent reduction in cholesterol levels in the research groups that had taken garlic. It is also a natural blood thinner, so it can reduce the incidence of blood clots that can lead to stroke and thrombosis.
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are one of the richest sources of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is known to counter cardiovascular disease. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, the best way to get the heart-healthy benefits of flax seeds is to grind or crush them, then mix them or stir them into your food. This makes the nutrients more bioavailable to the body. Start with a daily teaspoon of flaxseeds and work your way up to two tablespoons, if you are not used to them.
Kidney beans: These delicious beans are a rich source of omega-3s, which reduce triglycerides, stabilize your heartbeat, make platelets “less sticky” and lower blood pressure. Omega-3s also boost levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and help clear your arteries. In fact, the entire legume family—comprising beans, peas and lentils—is heart-friendly. A large scale national study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine says including up to four servings of legumes in your diet every week can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 22 per cent. If beans give you flatulence, don’t avoid them—simply cook them with herbs and spices. This helps reduce their gas-causing properties. The best spices and herbs to cook beans with are ginger, turmeric, cumin, basil, and fennel seeds.