7 Foods This Cardiologist Always Includes in Their Shopping List

May 2, 2023 | 

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Kim Sorgson

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Physical activity and smoking are just a few lifestyle factors that can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, many factors can impact heart health, including diet, which can play a crucial role. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that "most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors." To help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, Dr. Long Cao, an American cardiologist, has listed seven essential foods for maintaining a healthy heart in an interview with Well and Good. Discover what they are!

Avocados, Apples, Nuts... 7 Foods to Add to Your Cart for a Healthy Heart

A healthy diet is key to preserving heart health. But which foods should you prioritize? Cardiologist Long Cao has listed seven essential foods:

Berries


In fruit salads or smoothies, fresh berries are among the foods that help maintain good heart health! According to the cardiologist, "they are not only rich in vitamin C but also in a large number of other antioxidants that help fight cancer and minimize inflammation in our vessels that lead to plaque formation." The American health professional recommends consuming 100 grams of berries daily to combat inflammation and promote healthy aging.

Chickpeas


Dr. Cao believes that chickpeas are essential for protecting heart health. Why? As a source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they can "provide a variety of health benefits, such as improving digestion and reducing the risk of heart disease."

For those who usually consume whole chickpeas, the cardiologist recommends a portion of half a bowl to a full bowl. Also, feel free to use "hummus as a dip for your favorite vegetables or crackers, or spread a generous amount on your sandwich of choice."

Apples


Available year-round, apples are heart-friendly allies. As Dr. Cao explains, apples can help lower blood pressure, partly due to their high fiber content. "Fiber provides a feeling of fullness. In addition, apples are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and minerals such as copper and potassium," explains the specialist.

Nuts


Nuts and almonds are "non-negotiable snacks for heart health," according to the cardiologist. Indeed, he explains that a healthy diet including nuts can improve artery health, reduce hypertension risk, and decrease inflammation related to heart diseases. Moreover, their consumption can also lower the risk of blood clot formation, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Dark Leafy Greens


Kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens also make Dr. Cao´s list. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, these foods offer heart health benefits, according to the specialist: "Vitamin K is necessary for proper blood clotting, which is important when it comes to clotting in the heart." He recommends consuming 100 grams of raw kale or spinach daily. You can also add them to your smoothie.

Avocados


Despite their controversial fat content, avocados are believed to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Dr. Cao tells Well and Good that they also contain numerous micronutrients, including vitamins C, E, K, B6, riboflavin, niacin, folates, magnesium, and potassium. "All these agents promote better blood circulation by dilating blood vessels, improving cardiac output by enhancing heart contractions, and to some extent, naturally making blood cells healthier and more slippery to travel through the body."

Wild Fish


Cardiologist-approved shopping lists should include "wild" fish. According to the specialist, "wild fish, which are less likely to cause inflammation and offer more benefits than farmed fish, have their place in meals as they are a good source of protein, healthy fats, omega-3, B12, and selenium." "Wild fish" refers to fish that are caught in their natural habitat, such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, rather than being raised in artificial environments like fish farms. Wild fish are typically considered to be healthier and more nutritious compared to farmed fish, as they feed on a natural diet and are less likely to be exposed to chemicals or antibiotics that are sometimes used in fish farming. Moreover, wild fish often have a more varied diet, which can lead to a better nutritional profile, including higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart health.

Conclusion

In summary, maintaining a healthy heart requires paying attention to your diet and incorporating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that promote cardiovascular health. Dr. Long Cao´s list of essential foods for heart health – berries, chickpeas, apples, nuts, dark leafy greens, avocados, and wild fish – can help guide you on your journey to better heart health. By including these foods in your daily diet and following a balanced lifestyle with regular physical activity and avoiding harmful habits such as smoking, you can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and enjoy a healthier life.