Diet plays a major role in your heart health and may even influence your risk of heart disease by altering blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation. To look after your heart and give it the tender loving care it needs (no matter what your age), aim to include at least some of these top foods for nurturing a healthy heart.
Berries are a great dietary addition for heart health and general wellbeing. Rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins, berries have been proven to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, which is associated with boosting heart health. Berries have also been shown to positively impact "bad" LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood clotting, systolic blood pressure and BMI in your body - all of which may be considered risk factors of heart disease. The best part about berries? They taste beaut and can be included in your diet in so many different ways, from smoothies, to chia puddings, to baked goods and so much more.
Beans and other legumes contain resistant starch, a type of starch that resists digestion and is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Animal studies have shown resistant starch to improve heart health by decreasing blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammation. Our fave beans and legumes to cook with are adzuki beans, black turtle beans, chickpeas, red lentils and white cannellini beans.
In addition to all the goodness we know leafy greens offer (chlorophyll, iron, calcium and protein to name a few key nutrients...), they are also particularly high in vitamin K, which helps protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting. Leafy greens are also high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness and improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels. Keep these key nutrients up in your diet to keep your heart feeling happy and healthy.
Walnuts are a great source of fibre and micronutrients like magnesium, copper and manganese. Studies suggest that walnuts can help reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby boosting heart health. Eat walnuts as they are, or in a nut mix as a healthy snacking option or crunchy salad topper.
Some of the most popular types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa. Whole grains include all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran. Compared to refined grains, whole grains are higher in fibre, which may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and thus benefit your heart health.
Chocolate-lovers, rejoice! Dark chocolate has been shown to boost heart health from its rich content of flavonoids. It's important that when you're picking chocolate, choose high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%, and eat in moderation to make the most of its heart-healthy benefits. We love our dark chocolate drops as they are organic and single-origin 70% cacao chocolate, perfect to use when baking.