The foods we eat have a tremendous impact on our health. It seems that every week, a new superfood appears that promises to revolutionize our health; just as often, health warnings about common foods can be found in the news. The medical community has responded to this onslaught of information, and in a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers have presented a review of heart-healthy foods that cut through the clutter to deliver measurable improvements in overall cardiovascular health. Let’s take a look at some of the findings of the study.
Here are some of the foods that medical researchers have pinpointed for heart health; as with any foods or beverages, moderation is the key to unlocking their benefits. Heart-healthy foods include:
Coffee – for many years, conflicting details about the health benefits or negative consequences of coffee have created confusion. The truth is that years of evidence and observational studies show that coffee provides substantial health benefits. Polyphenols, chemical compounds in coffee, serve as antioxidants and can improve both insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. In fact, these compounds can reduce the risk of developing type two diabetes. Black coffee seems to be the ideal delivery method, eliminating the artery-clogging cream and excessive sugar that can create their own health concerns.
Tea – just like coffee, tea contains antioxidant chemical compounds that help to eliminate free radicals from the body. It has been shown in numerous studies that tea drinkers have lower risks of cardiovascular diseases and improved ratios of cholesterols in the blood. As with coffee, drinking tea without cream or sugar seems to be the preferred delivery method.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – for years, scientists and nutritional experts have extolled the virtues of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish, nuts, oils, and some plants. Omega-3s have been shown to decrease the production of low-density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol that can clog blood vessels over time. These fatty acids have also been shown to decrease the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases. Researchers recommend natural whole foods containing omega-3s instead of supplements like fish oil capsules.
Legumes – rich in fiber, antioxidants, and carbohydrates, legumes – lentils, beans, chickpeas – have been shown in numerous studies to promote healthy hearts and cardiovascular systems. These foods reduce cholesterol and balance blood glucose; the beneficial fiber is also great for the digestive and excretory systems in the body. Finally, legumes can help people achieve healthy body weights, reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system.
Mushrooms – mushrooms are known for their nutritional benefits, which include antioxidants and vitamins. Cardiologists in the study pinpointed mushrooms’ high levels of vitamin D and bioactive chemical compounds on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Mushrooms can reduce cholesterol, reduce the artery hardening that we experience as we age, and stabilize blood pressure. Another study demonstrated that mushrooms can even decrease the chance of developing type two diabetes.
Foods to Avoid for Heart Health
There are several foods and beverages that should be avoided to ensure healthy hearts for our lifetimes. These foods include excessive sugars, particularly sugar found in processed foods. Animal fats may also lead to problems with cholesterol, especially the low-density kind that can clog our arteries.
Energy drinks are a serious concern to medical professionals. These drinks contain potentially dangerous levels of caffeine and stimulants, increasing the likelihood of serious health complications like heart attacks, seizures, and cardiomyopathy, especially in young people who consume these popular beverages.
Article brought to you by Mr. James Lacey of Healthy Ventures