Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Powerful Heart-Healthy Diet

The February edition of Prevention magazine boldly states that up to 70% of heart disease can be prevented with the right life style choices. This is big news since heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. What caught my attention was the assertion that diet alone is “much more powerful” than drugs, such a statins.

A healthy diet includes a broad range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes (beans), not just one or two of your favorites. Here are nine highly recommended foods to get you started caring for your heart:

• Oranges – reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart failure
• Kale – averts atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
• Garlic – lowers blood pressure and reduces plaque
• Red wine – increases HDL cholesterol and reduces unwanted clotting
• Dark chocolate – reduces blood pressure
• Sardines – reduce triglycerides and raises HDL cholesterol
• Lentils – lower blood pressure
• Almonds – reduce LDL cholesterol and fatal arrhythmias
• Pomegranates – reduce atherosclerosis

It’s important to note that just adding these foods is not enough. For years we’ve known that we need to cut back on saturated fats (red meat, butter, etc.). Researchers have now found that also problematic are the sugar and refined flour in foods such as breads, pizzas, baked goods and sodas. They do the reverse of our healthy nine by raising triglycerides, lowering HDL, and raising blood pressure. To really see an effect, replace foods high in sugar and refined flour with the food list above, along with other produce, nuts, fish, and legumes.

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