Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Eight Heart Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

What you eat is one of the biggest determinants of your coronary heart disease risk. A diet high in the eight foods below will go a long way to maintaining a healthy heart.

1) Garlic

Garlic contains powerful chemicals that have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It has been estimated that a clove of garlic a day is needed to obtain these health benefits. If the thought of eating a clove of garlic a day is too much for you, odorless garlic capsules can be purchased from most pharmacies and supermarkets.

2) Oats (Oat-meal and Oat-bran)

Oats are high in soluble fiber which have been shown in many studies to reduce your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Research has shown that the higher your ratio of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to LDL, the lower your risk of heart disease is. One cup of oatmeal a day provides enough dietary fiber to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels significantly.

3) Alcohol

Moderate consumption of Alcohol (up to two glasses a day) has been shown in most studies to reduce heart disease risk by between 20 percent and 40 percent compared to non-drinkers. Moderate Alcohol consumption has been associated with an increased ratio of HDL to LDL, thinner blood (leading to reduced blood clotting), reduced blood insulin levels and a reduction in arterial plaque build up. Heavy alcohol consumption however raises blood pressure and is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.

4) Oily Fish

Fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which reduce heart disease risk by reducing blood pressure and increasing blood vessel elasticity. Medical experts recommend a minimum of 2 servings of fish a week to obtain the full benefit of omega-3, alternatively fish oil capsules can be taken.

5) Nuts such as Almonds, Walnuts, and Cashew Nuts

Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats and contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A handful of nuts a day has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 20 percent.

6) Tomatoes and Tomato Products

Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes have high levels of Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. In a study of 40,000 women at the Harvard school of Public Health, women who consumed seven or more servings of tomato-based foods were 30 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed less than 1.5 servings. Women who ate more than ten servings a week were up to a massive 65 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

7) Green Tea

A Japanese study of over 400,000 individuals aged between 40 and 79 found that those people who consumed five or more cups of green tea a day were 26 percent less likely to die from heart disease. Researchers also found that the effect was stronger for women than men. Green tea is high in polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that are also found in most berry fruit, apples, celery, broccoli and parsley.

8) Spinach

Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and K and is also an excellent source of Folate. Folate helps the heart by reducing homo-cysteine levels in the blood. High homo-cysteine levels are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Author Resource: Anthony Wilson is the owner of, a daily updated news and information website about many health topics such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

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