Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but many of us don’t understand what it takes to keep our hearts healthy. What we eat plays an important role in promoting heart health, so it’s essential that we understand which nutrients are beneficial for a healthy heart. Let’s take a look at some of the key nutrients that can help protect our hearts and keep them strong.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that can be found in salmon, tuna, herring, walnuts, flaxseeds, and other sources. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improved cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol levels while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels. These fats can also help reduce blood clotting and lower triglyceride levels. To get the most benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, aim for two servings per week and supplement your intake with fish oil capsules or a high-quality omega-3 supplement if needed.
Potassium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and more. It is especially important for those with hypertension (high blood pressure) as it helps reduce sodium retention in the body by preventing it from accumulating in cells. Potassium has also been shown to reduce plaque buildup in arteries which can lead to stroke or heart attack. You can get potassium from fruits such as bananas or oranges as well as leafy greens like spinach or kale. Other sources include potatoes and legumes like beans or lentils. Aim for 4–5 servings of potassium rich foods per day to ensure you get enough!
Soluble fiber helps decrease cholesterol levels while insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system more quickly which can help reduce constipation and other digestive issues that could contribute to heart disease over time. Aim for 25–30 grams of fiber per day from whole grains such as oats or barley as well as vegetables like broccoli or carrots. Legumes such as lentils are also excellent sources of fiber! Try adding 1–2 servings of these foods into your daily diet for maximum benefit.
Eating right is one of the most important steps you can take towards protecting your heart health—and there are certain nutrients that can really give your heart an extra boost! Omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory benefits while potassium helps regulate blood pressure levels and reduce sodium retention in cells. Fiber—both soluble and insoluble—can help reduce cholesterol levels and move food through your digestive system more quickly which may help prevent constipation over time too! Aim for 2 servings per week of omega-3 rich foods such as salmon or tuna plus 4–5 servings each day of potassium rich foods such as bananas or spinach plus 25–30 grams each day from whole grains like oats or barley plus legumes like lentils! Eating right will have you on the path to better heart health in no time!
Northeast Missouri Health Council, Partners for a lifetime of health
Medical, Dental, and Behavioral Clinics in Kirksville, Missouri, Macon, Missouri, Milan, Missouri, and Kahoka, Missouri. Visit our website to find the nearest clinic to you. www.nemohealthcouncil.com