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This Month In Diet
  • I Heart Food
    Take care of your heart by eating the right foods and avoiding the bad. Which are which? Read this guide to find out. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

I Heart Food

Best and worst foods for the health of your heart.

Tasked with pumping blood to the body, your heart is the most important organ of your body. With every pump, vital nutrients and oxygen are carried to your arms, legs, and beyond, enabling each cell in your body to do its job.

When high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or obesity keep the heart from doing its job efficiently, it has to work overtime and wears out faster. Since a worn out heart is deadly, it’s essential to take good care of your heart. Stress, smoking, too much alcohol, and a lack of exercise all increase your risk of heart disease.

Equally important to your heart is what you put in your mouth. That’s because the foods you eat each day have a direct effect on the health of your heart. Some strengthen and protect it from disease, while others contribute to its decline. Take care of your heart by eating the right foods and avoiding the bad. Which are which? Read this guide to find out.

Good: Beans

Eat beans every day and you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent. This happens because beans are high in soluble fiber, the kind of fiber that reduces high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They’re also rich in folate, a vitamin that lowers risk factors for heart disease. As an added perk, when you enjoy beans as your source of protein, you’re not eating as much animal protein, which is high in saturated fat.

Bad: Saturated Fat

There are good fats and bad fats. Saturated fat is one of the bad. Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels. Wind up with too much cholesterol, and you could wind up with clogged arteries and atherosclerosis, which puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, meat, coconut oil, and palm oil. Find alternate foods for better heart health.

Good: Nuts

Looking for a heart-healthy snack? Eat some nuts. They’re rich in unsaturated fats that lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Nuts also contain an amino acid that produces nitric oxide, a gas that expands blood vessels so plaque is less likely to build up. Nuts are so powerful that research has found that people who regularly munch on nuts have a 25 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease.

Bad: Added Sugars

You hear all the time that added sugars are bad for you. Every time you hear this, it’s true. Sugars don’t just make you fat and increase your risk of diabetes, but they also contribute to heart disease by raising blood pressure and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. Filling up on sugar means you aren’t eating healthy foods. Unfortunately, avoiding sugar is easier said than done, because it’s not just found in sweet foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and soda. So read food labels and be particularly cautious with processed foods, as many are full of added sugars.

Good: Dark Chocolate

Thankfully, all sweets aren’t bad for you. Example: dark chocolate. When made with at least 70 percent cacao, dark chocolate is one of the best foods for your heart. Just don’t overdo it. Dark chocolate gets its powers by being high in flavonoids that improve circulation, rich in antioxidants that reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, and filled with magnesium that promotes heart function. Enjoy a small indulgence on occasion without feeling guilty.

Bad: Sodium

Have high blood pressure? Then you’re at great risk for heart disease. Known as hypertension, high blood pressure is made worse by a diet high in salt. The problem is caused by the fact that salt makes your body retain fluids, which puts extra pressure on your heart. Processed foods and fast foods are typically high in sodium, so beware!