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How healthy is your Heart

While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it's still the No 1 killer of all Americans here in England we are not far behind. The good news is that we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heat attacks. 

Certain superfoods are great for keeping your heart healthy while others are not. Some can help lower cholesterol reduce inflammation, and slow the formation of plaque — to prevent heart disease. But some, taken in large doses, can actually aggravate a heart condition or interact with heart medication.

Find out which superfoods are good for your heart and which to view with caution.

Blueberries
Blueberries are the absolute powerhouse of the superfoods. Not only are they mega-tasty, but they’re also a superb source of antioxidants. Researchers believe that the antioxidants in blueberries help to reduce the buildup of cholesterol which can clog the arteries and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. Antioxidants help to neutralise the harmful byproducts of metabolism which are thought to cause cancer and a range of age related diseases.

A serving of blueberries a day whether they’re fresh, frozen or dried – is just what your heart is craving (and your taste buds).

Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a great source of hearty and healthy fibre. Fibre forms an important part of a healthy balanced diet, it can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, and can also improve digestive health. Fibre is also a great way to feel full, preventing you from snacking on the bad stuff and getting you through until lunchtime.

Oatmeal is part of the whole grain clan – also made up of whole wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, brown and wild rice. These whole grains can help to reduce diabetes which can lead to heart disease too. Just make sure they are whole grains and not refined grains – don’t lose the essential nutrients and fibre which occurs during processing.

Salmon
Salmon is a great superfood. It is now so widely available, affordable and easy to cook that it’s a no brainer for a healthy source of fatty Omega acids. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are believed to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases too, lowering the bad fats in the blood which can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends a good serving of oily fish at least twice a week – why not make posh fish and chips – pan fried salmon with oven roasted sweet potato chips.

Soy Protein
Another excellent source of healthy omega fatty acids, as well as vitamins, minerals and the obvious dollop of protein. Soy protein, when eaten as part of a healthy, low-fat diet can actively reduce cholesterol levels. Researchers even found that the effects were on a par with other people who took medicine to achieve the same outcome.

A daily dose of soy protein can be found in soybeans, soy nuts, soy milk, certain energy bars, fortified cereals and tofu.

Spinach
Popeye wasn’t kidding around. The ever present dark green, leafy vegetable (and the close relations of kale, broccoli, and collard greens) is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may protect against cardiovascular disease; it’s also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Spinach is also rich in folate. Folate helps to reduce the amount of homocysteine in the blood which is seen as an emerging risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases. So try and add some into those salads or wilt it into your pasta sauces.

 

The main thing to remember is the overall importance of eating a wide variety of fresh, unprocessed foods, rather than focusing on "superfoods" for getting high amounts of specific nutrients. "It's really about the whole package—the combination of nutrients and micronutrients that occur together in different foods that improve the overall quality of your diet,"