According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., and a poor diet is one of the primary indicators for heart disease. But it can be overwhelming to wade through all of the confusing dietary advice for heart health.
You’ve probably heard that you should avoid saturated fats because of their effect on your cholesterol, yet that advice doesn’t address the true cause of heart disease. Heart disease at its roots can be traced to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, so an anti-inflammatory diet is a powerful tool to combat or prevent heart disease.
So exactly which changes can you make in your diet to prevent heart disease?
If you really want to take control of your heart health in the kitchen, try these six foods:
Atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation play a huge part in the development of cardiovascular disease, and both place a lot of oxidative stress on the body. The rainbow of richly colored vegetables on your plate are filled with antioxidants, so plan to eat as many types as possible at each meal. Find new ways to cook with beets, carrots, broccoli, kale, asparagus, brussels sprouts, spinach, celery, onions, and squash.
Fruits are rich in fiber, vitamins, potassium and polyphenols, which fight vascular plaque buildup. Try to eat at least three servings of fruit per day, particularly berries and citrus, which are high in antioxidants and have been shown to decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
You’ve probably already heard that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attack, but you may be wondering how exactly to shop like a Mediterranean. Reach for the healthy fats, which can be found in nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Certain herbs have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including turmeric, raw garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, and ginger. Not only are they good for your heart, they’ll add flavor to your plate, so experiment with spices from this list and find the ones you like the best.
Red wine (in moderation)
Studies have shown that drinking a moderate serving—about 5 ounces—of red wine regularly can help prevent cardiac events because it contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant.
Of course, eating a cleaner diet increases the chance that you’ll have enough energy to be physically active, another great way to prevent heart disease. You should also aim to limit your intake of foods that promote inflammation, like refined carbohydrates and sugars of all kinds. If you’re ready to prevent heart disease naturally, start by making these simple changes to your diet today.