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Guide to Heart Health   ( Home | Diet | Foods | Recipes )

Best Cardioprotective Foods for Good Heart Health (Cont'd)

Eat your way to better heart health! Below, you find a list of the best cardioprotective foods there is. Make sure to eat these on a regular basis and your heart will thank you.

Note that this is the second page of a two-page article on cardioprotective foods. You can view the first page by clicking here.

#11: Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon is one of the best foods you can eat if you want to maintain good heart health. Salmon provides an excellent source of omega 3-fatty acids — types of fatty acids that are often in short supply in Western diets. A large body of evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can protect against CVD. The cardioprotective effects of omega-3s are believed to be linked to these essential fatty acids' ability to prevent blood clots and to reduce inflammation in the artery walls. In addition to omega-3's, salmon contains another interesting heart-healthy nutrient: astaxanthin. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid that gives salmon its pink color, can help reduce the amount of oxidized LDL-cholesterol. Oxidized LDL-cholesterol plays a role in the formation of plaques inside arteries that can lead to blood clots, heart disease, and stroke. To get the most astaxanthin, opt for wild salmon. Astaxanthin levels have been reported to be much higher in wild salmon (particularly in sockeye salmon) than farmed salmon. Further, wild salmon contains only low levels of PCBs, harmful chemicals that are often found in high quantities in farmed salmon. That said, moderation should be the key also in the consumption of wild salmon. Too frequent/high a consumption of salmon and other fish may predispose you to an excessive exposure to certain toxins — such as mercury and pesticides — contained in fish. The FDA recommends eating fish twice a week, but not more often.

#12: Pumpkin Seeds

If you look at the nutrition facts table on a bag of pumpkin seeds, you'll learn that they are very high in calories and fat. But that should not be a reason to shy away from these nutty, dark green seeds! Although it is true that pumpkin seeds are rich both in calories and fat, consuming these seeds in moderation can be help lower the LDL cholesterol levels because of their high concentration of phytosterols. In Fall, when pumpkins are in season, you can try drying your own seeds. Dried pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw as a snack or added to salads or other sweet and savory dishes.

Fish roe
Fish eggs top the list of natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

#13: Fish Roe

A little goes a long way when it comes to fish eggs. Fish eggs are one of the best natural sources of DHA and EPA which are types of omega-3 fatty acids. Ounce for ounce, fish eggs contain even more omega-3's than the fattiest fish. A study, which analyzed the roe of fifteen marine animals, found that the roe of lumpsucker, hake, and salmon were the richest in terms of omega-3 fatty acids.

#14: Carrots

Rich in carotenoids, carrots are one of the best cardioprotective foods for good heart health. Carotenoids are natural compounds that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. One study found that those study participants who ate at least one serving of carrots and/or squash per day had a 60% reduction in their risk of heart attacks, compared to those study participants who had less than one serving of these carotenoid-rich foods per day. Steaming carrots can slightly improve the bioavailability of beta-carotene in carrots. Also eating carrots in tandem with a little bit of fat (for example olive oil) helps the body utilize beta-carotene more effectively.

Aside from their heart healthy qualities, carrots offer a host of other health benefits, so it's definitely worth incorporating them into your diet (for further information, read the article Health Benefits of Eating Carrots).

Asparagus is supercharged with heart health promoting nutrients.

#15: Asparagus

Asparagus is at the top of the list of foods with the highest concentration of glutathione (349 nM glutathione/g wet weight), a 'master antioxidant' that has gained the spotlight in recent years. Low levels of glutathione have been associated with in increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Asparagus also contains a wealth of other antioxidant compounds, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and N-acetylcysteine. As an additional bonus, this heart healthy food is typically low in pesticides, even the non-organically grown produce.

#16: Oats

Eating a bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal for breakfast is a superb way to start a day off right. Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of water-soluble dietary fiber that helps eliminate cholesterol from the digestive system. Studies show that eating a bowl of oatmeal per day can lower cholesterol by up to 23%. Research also shows that those who consume the most water-soluble fiber have a 15% risk reduction in coronary heart disease and a 10% reduction of risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to being a rich source of hearty healthy fiber, oats contain unique antioxidants called avenanthramides. These compounds have been shown to prevent free radicals from oxidizing LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

#17: Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds have the highest phytosterol content of all nuts and seeds (over 400 mg per 100 grams or 3.5 ounces). Phytosterols, plant compounds similar in structure to cholesterol, are known to lower cholesterol levels. On top of that, sesame seeds contain compounds that have been shown to enhance the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E and to normalize blood pressure. Sesame seeds, which are available throughout the year, add a delectable nutty flavor and a slight crunch to many Asian dishes.

#18: Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar (ACV), an age-old folk remedy, has been purported to treat just about any ailment you can think of. While some traditional folk medicine uses of apple cider vinegar have now been disproved, others have found backing in scientific studies. Recent research has found apple cider vinegar to slow starch digestion and lower the Glycemic Index rating of starchy foods. This is of course great news to people who want to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease as a diet rich in high glycemic foods has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. What's more, some animal studies also suggest that apple cider vinegar may also be effective at lowering cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

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