Surprising heart-healthy foods: add these choices to your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.
"There are many everyday foods that provide excellent heart-health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels, improving heart function, increasing blood flow, and reducing inflammation," says Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian with the UCLA Medical Center.
The darker the food, the better. Dark-colored choices like deep green and bright orange are rich in heart-boosting phytonutrients, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and key minerals like potassium and magnesium.
Unfortunately, many seniors often neglect their nutrition or adopt poor eating habits as they age. "Older adults lose some of their sense of taste and smell, which makes meals less enjoyable," says Dr. Hunnes. "So they end up adding more sugar, salt, and fat to foods to improve the taste and, in doing so, increase their risk of many heart-related problems."
Another barrier is that cooking can become more of a chore, especially if you cook for only two people or just yourself. "Seniors want meals that are quick, easy, and simple," says Dr. Hunnes.
But the advantage of many heart-healthy foods is that they can be added to staple meals, or eaten on their own. Plus, you don't need high amounts to protect yourself against heart disease. "Instead of focusing on specific amounts, try to incorporate more of them into your daily diet," says Dr. Hunnes.
Here is a look at some of the top heart-healthy foods and tips on how to eat more of them.
Ground Flaxseed. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It also contains more than 100 times more lignans, a polyphenol and type of antioxidant, than any other plant food. Studies suggest that diets rich in flaxseed also keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries. One study of postmenopausal women found that those who consumed 30 grams of flaxseed a day, for three months, reduced their total cholesterol by 7 percent and LDL [bad) cholesterol by 10 percent.
Eat More: "Always use ground flaxseed as the body cannot properly digest the hull," says Dr. Hunnes. Mix it into oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, pancakes, and any baking recipe.
Black Beans. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that black beans have the highest antioxidant activity of all beans. Antioxidants neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, which protects against heart disease.
Eat More: Use black beans as a meat replacement in pasta sauce and in dishes like enchiladas and to accompany eggs at breakfast.
Sweet Potatoes. One cup of sweet potatoes supplies 950 mg of potassium. Potassium can protect your heart in several ways.
One study found potassium lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number) by eight points. Sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, and studies have shown diets high in beta-carotene can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
* Eat More: Switch out your regular baked potatoes for sweet. Add cubes of sweet potato to soups or stews, stir pureed sweet potatoes into bread, muffin, or pancake recipes, or mix into oatmeal.
Dark Chocolate. Louisiana State University researchers found cocoa powder in dark chocolate, when digested in the stomach, releases anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit the heart.
* Eat More: Don't feel you have free reign to eat candy bars every day. "Keep those to one-half to 1 ounce a day, as you don't want the extra sugar and calories that come with it," says Dr. Hunnes. Instead, mix true dark chocolate cocoa powder into your yogurt, oatmeal, and even a warm cup of low-fat or almond milk.
Basil and Thyme. Basil is a good source of cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by helping blood vessels relax to improve blood flow. One study found basil lowered systolic blood pressure (top number) by 20 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) by 15 mmHg. Thyme can help lower triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while raising HDL (good) levels, suggests a 2014 study.
* Eat More: Use in place of salt and pepper to flavor meals. Dried herbs are more potent and concentrated than fresh, so you can use less. Salmon. Salmon is known for its heart benefits, but what makes it a surprising heart-healthy food is that it has some of the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Research has shown that omega-3s decrease risk of abnormal heartbeats, which can lead to sudden death. They also lower triglyceride levels (a type of fat in your blood), slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and help to reduce blood pressure.
* Eat More: The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty fish like salmon twice a week. (Other fish options include mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna.) Opt for wild salmon over farmed, says Dr. Hunnes, as farmed can contain chemical additives from feed and contamination from runoff. Another choice is wild pink salmon in the can.
MEDICATION AND FOOD Some foods can interfere with the absorption of certain drugs or increase your risk ol side effects. Other foods can offer support. Here are some common medications and a list of what foods you should avoid or increase. Check with your doctor before making any dietary changes with regard to your prescription. MEDICATION FOODS DIURETICS: Help remove water, Diuretics can cause potassium sodium, and chloride to reduce levels to drop, so you want to swelling and excess fluid increase your amount of high- caused by medical problems potassium foods. These include such as heart or liver bananas, oranges, spinach, disease. Also can treat high broccoli, asparagus, blood pressure. cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Names: bumetanide, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, metolazone, triamterene ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED) Grapefruit and grapefruit DRUGS: Increase blood flow juice can block ED drugs from into the penis to encourage leaving the body, which can erections during intercourse. cause side effects such as low blood pressure, headache, Names: sildenafil (Viagra[R]), flushing, visual (color) tadalafil (Cialis"), disturbances, nasal vardenafil (Levitra[ R]) congestion, dizziness, abdominal pain, and/or acid reflux. ACE (angiotensin-converting ACE inhibitors can increase enzyme) INHIBITORS: Lower the amount of potassium in blood pressure and treat heart your body, which can cause an failure by relaxing blood irregular or rapid heartbeat. vessels, so blood flows more Avoid large amounts of smoothly and the heart can potassium-rich foods such as pump blood better. oranges, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupe, sweet Names: captopril, enalapril, potatoes, tomatoes, and salt lisinopril, moexipril, substitutes that contain quinapril, ramipril potassium. LIPID-ALTERING AGENTS Grapefruit and grapefruit (statins): Lower production of juice contain furanocoumarins, LOL (bad) cholesterol and a compound that slows statins' triglycerides (fat in the breakdown in the body and may blood) and raise HDL (good) trigger side effects such as cholesterol, which reduces the digestive issues, muscle risk of heart attack and aches, increased blood sugar, stroke. liver damage, and kidney failure. Names: atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin ANTICOAGULANTS (blood Vitamin K-rich foods reduce thinners): Reduce the chance the effect of warfarin and of blood clots forming or increase the risk of side growing larger. effects like headaches and stomach pain, bleeding gums, Name: warfarin excessive bruising, and blood in the urine. These foods include broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, spinach, kale, turnip greens, and Brussel sprouts. Also avoid cranberries, cranberry juice, and garlic. Calcium-rich foods like milk TETRACYCLINE ANTIBIOTICS: Used products and over-the-counter to treat many different antacids can reduce absorption bacterial infections, such as of the drug. urinary tract infections, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and others. Names: doxycycline, tetracycline (MAOIs) Antidepressants- Foods that contain high Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: amounts of tyramine can spike Treat depression by balancing blood pressure. These include neurotransmitters in the cheeses (American processed, brain. MAOIs reduce the amount cheddar, Colby, blue, Brie, of monoamine oxidase, which mozzarella, and Parmesan), breaks down neurotransmitters. yogurt, sour cream, beef or chicken liver, salami, Names: phenelzine, pepperoni, avocados, bananas, tranylcypromine canned figs, dried fruits (raisins, prunes), raspberries, sauerkraut, soy beans, soy sauce, fava beans, and chocolate.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2015|
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