Spoiler alert: they’re all delicious.
Heart health is not a subject to take lightly.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. An estimated 44 million U.S. women are affected by cardiovascular disease, causing 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year. And one of the most common forms of heart disease is coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease happens when a buildup of plaque narrows artery walls and restricts proper blood flow to the heart. This can eventually lead to a heart attack or cardiac death.
Coronary artery disease can be treated or prevented through lifestyle modifications. One major influence on disease management or prevention is your diet.
Foods rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats, and antioxidants all have their role in heart health. We’ve rounded up 7 artery-friendly foods and highlighted what makes them so great and how they can keep your arteries clean.
Is there anything avocados can’t do? It turns out avocados are good news when it comes to your arteries, too. This heart-healthy fruit increases your “good” cholesterol while lowering your “bad” cholesterol.
Avocados are also chock-full of potassium — more than a banana, in fact. Potassium has been proven to help prevent cardiovascular disease and vascular calcification in your arteries.
Add it to your diet: Replace mayo with avocado and use in sandwiches, chicken salad, or tuna salad. Fan of smoothies? Drink your daily dose of avocado by adding it to your favorite blended beverage (bonus: it makes it extra creamy!).
2. Fatty fish
While the myth that fat is bad for your arteries has been debunked, it’s important to know what kind of fat you should be eating.
Like avocado, fish is packed with healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats. Fish consumption is linked to fewer heart attacks. Their omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce levels of triglycerides and prevent the risk for cardiac death.
Add it to your diet: Eat salmon or your favorite fatty fish, such as tuna or mackerel, one to four times a week to reap these benefits. When it comes to taking fish oil supplements or eating fish, the latter is considered the most beneficial for heart health. Learn more about how to add more omegas Omega Beyond the Sea Optimize your Omegas or try a new Salmon Recipe Salmon Cakes Salmon and Sweet Potatoe Hash
Nuts are a powerhouse when it comes to heart health. Rich in unsaturated fats, vitamins, and fiber, nuts are a solid choice when it comes to a healthy snack. Try almonds, cashews, or Brazil nuts — all of which are very high in magnesium. Magnesium hinders buildup and cholesterol plaque in arteries, helping to prevent clogged arteries.
Add it to your diet: For optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends three to five servings of nuts per week. Get your fix by learning how to create your own trail mix.
4. Olive oil
Tired of hearing about healthy fats yet? Of course not. They’re delicious! But we end our stream of healthy fats here with perhaps the most versatile and popular of them all: olive oil.
The monounsaturated oleic acid (say that three times fast) found in olive oil protects your heart and significantly lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Add it to your diet: Drizzle on your salads and use in cooking, but make sure you’re using the right type. To get all of this oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, purchase 100 percent extra virgin olive oil (organic if possible).
Good news for coffee lovers. This beloved pick-me-up helps keep your arteries clean. One study found that drinking three cups a day significantly lowers your risk for developing atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries.
If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, green tea has also been proven beneficial to cardiovascular health.
Add it to your diet: Drinking three cups a day, you say? No problem! But while getting your daily dose, it’s important to stay away from adding sugars or lots of cream. Try and make your coffee as healthy and beneficial as possible.
Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce damage to arterial walls. Inflammation levels have been shown to have a direct effect on arteriosclerosis — the hardening of the arteries.
A study on rats shows that this antioxidant-rich spice can reduce fatty deposits Add it to your diet: The easiest way to add turmeric to your diet is by making turmeric tea. You can also make our easy, five-ingredient golden milk.
Both antioxidants and vitamin C are good news for artery health — and citrus fruits have plenty of both.
Studies have shown that vitamin C has a powerful role in reducing heart disease risk and the flavonoids found in them help protect arterial walls.
Add it to your diet: Drink plenty of lemon water throughout the day or start your morning with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a grapefruit half.
Also, keep an eye out for the bergamot fruit when in season or bergamot tea. Bergamot has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels as effectively as a statin drug according to research published in the International Journal of Cardiology and Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Like whole grains, broccoli is packed with fiber that’s beneficial for overall heart health. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, have been proven to specifically help prevent clogged arteries and protect against vascular disease.
Add it to your diet: Need some new inspiration to eat more veggies? Check out these recipes that will make you fall in love with broccoli again. Cream of Brocolli or Fish Brocolli Tacos