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Home / Health / Five foods to improve your heart health – and two things you should definitely avoid

Five foods to improve your heart health – and two things you should definitely avoid

Diet advice can be overwhelming. It seems, at least from some headlines, how the council is constantly changing. Although science has not changed so much over the years, we keep revising details and even doctors know it can be hard to keep up. That's why the American College of Cardiology has decided what exactly you should check for your heart's health – and what you should not. It was published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology .

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You've probably heard a lot of mixed stuff about coffee ̵

1; it's bad, it's good, it does not matter – but the bulk of the evidence says Drinking joe is good for you. Cardiologists think that some of the health benefits can come from the antioxidants in coffee, such as polyphenols, but it has been difficult to associate the effects with any specific compound. The polyphenolic antioxidants seem to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Insulin is how your body tames blood sugar levels, and when the system gets out of balance you can develop major metabolic problems such as type 2 diabetes.

Most of the assurance that coffee is part of a healthy diet comes from observational studies, where researchers ask a large number of people to describe their eating and drinking habits, and then find correlations between the consumption of coffee and heart health. These studies have shown that drinking about three to five cups a day lowers your overall risk of death and your risk of cardiovascular disease. Java also does not appear to have a significant impact on arrhythmias, high blood pressure, blood lipid levels or cholesterol, but it reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

All that is said is what is not healthy in many Americans' coffee habits are sugar. Coffee-flavored drinks or simple drip coffee with lots of added sugar are counterproductive. The sugar and the calories it contains work against the heart-healthy black coffee, so try to drink your morning mug with as few distorting other ingredients as possible.


Like coffee, researchers think that the antioxidants in tea are a part of what helps to positively affect our body. Tea drinkers tend to have a lower cardiovascular disease risk and overall mortality risk, in addition to better ratios of low to high density lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are the compounds your body uses to carry cholesterol (remember: you actually need some cholesterol to work for your cell membranes), and there are two types. The low density version is poor because it contributes to fatty deposits in the arteries, while the high density is good because they seem to take the low density version out of the bloodstream.

But coffee also takes a lot of it You do not melt your afternoon tea with tons of sugar or other sweeteners.


These mushrooms are small nutritional power plants. The Cardiology Report states that they have anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and vitamin D, as well as a number of other bioactive compounds that help to reduce hardening of the arteries, cholesterol and blood pressure. They are the only vegetables that actually contain vitamin D, and it only takes three ounces of mushrooms to deliver your total daily dose. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who ate oyster mushrooms had a significant decrease over several heart health measurements, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. They also appear to be associated with less total cardiovascular disease, as well as lower rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

They are also low in fat, completely free of cholesterol and contain many other vitamins and minerals. Eat more mushrooms.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Most of us know omega-3 fatty acids from fish, but we can also pick them up from some plants. Walnuts, rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil and green leafy plants all contain omega-3 fatty acids. If you are looking for a more environmentally conscious way to consume your OM3, you should consider these sources. Cardiologists are not sure if one source is better than another, but it is clear that the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease decreases significantly when you consume it. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the production of low-density lipoproteins (read: bad) and triglycerides, thereby improving your overall heart health.

There are concerns that fish itself contains some other compounds, such as methylmercury, that could be detrimental to your health. And a recent meta-analysis suggesting that fish oil supplements might not really help you as much as early evidence showed. Supplements in general are a less recommended way to get essential vitamins because it is unclear whether you can even ingest large amounts of one vitamin at a time. Nutrition from whole food sources is generally better. For these reasons, cardiologists suggest that plant sources are a better way to get your omega-3 fatty acids.


Beans, lentils, chickpeas – just about all of us should eat more of this fiber-rich heart – health-promoting nutrient bombs. They have protein but low fat, tons of complex carbohydrates and several compounds that lower cholesterol and act as antioxidants. Eating it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve blood sugar levels, and help you maintain or maintain a healthy body weight. In addition, the fiber in them helps to promote a different microbiome (the healthy bacteria that inhabit your intestines), and while they can give you the gas when you introduce them slowly (and cling to them), your body will slowly adapt.


Vitamin B12

Although B12 supplements have long been promoted as heart-healthy pills, several large studies have shown that there is no benefit. Unless you have a vitamin B12 deficiency (which your doctor may need to diagnose or measure), taking additional risk may increase your risk for other diseases such as lung cancer. If you are at risk of developing a deficiency that the elderly and vegans have, talk to your family doctor about taking a B12 supplement. Otherwise, skip the pills and get them from fish, dairy, beef, liver, poultry or eggs.


A glass of wine with dinner probably helps your heart. Low to moderate intakes have long correlated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as it appears to increase high density lipoproteins (meaning good), improve insulin sensitivity and, among other things, reduce inflammation. But stronger use? That hurts you. High alcohol intake increases the risk of heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure and stroke. Besides, it's hard for your liver. Women also get an increased risk of breast cancer from even modest drinking.

Overall, the American College of Cardiologists does not recommend that you start drinking for your heart health, if you are not already, and reduce your alcohol intake if you drink more than the recommended amount (that's one per day for women , two for men)


Here's the topic of dairy products: In principle, the high saturated fat content should be bad for your heart. In reality, it does not seem to have a strong impact. Some research has even shown that whole milk products are better for you than low-fat versions, perhaps because they are more satiating and thus help you to eat less calories. Apart from that, you should not eat large quantities of dairy products, especially those with sugar (we only look at flavored yoghurt). But Vollfettkäse in moderate quantities? Go for it.

Possibly KINDA

Fermented Food

You thought probiotics were only good for your gut, right? Some studies suggest that they may be good for your heart as well. Healthy intestinal bacteria help to suppress inflammation and reduce cholesterol. Even kimchi, whose high salt content is not good for the heart, seems to improve blood lipids and glucose. Fermented dairy and yogurt also generally seem to be good for your heart. The cardiologists noted that there are not enough scientifically sound studies to recommend fermented substances in one way or another. It's just a small, isolated study that has shown benefits for your lipids and blood sugar, so we know for sure that they will not harm your heart.


Energy Drinks

The bizarre blends of caffeine, vitamins, and other stimulant compounds in energy drinks may be one of the worst culprits for your heart health. Drinking increases your chances of developing arrhythmias, coronary spasm and death. Young people who consume them may have seizures, heart attacks and cardiomyopathy. Several health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the European Union, have recommended that no children or adolescents consume energy drinks.

There are not many studies specifically devoted to energy drink consumption and heart health. Nobody will do a randomized clinical trial to test if energy drinks are really that bad – that's an ethical nightmare. We already have reason to believe that they are bad for you, so doctors will not risk anyone's health by testing it. But until now, all the evidence suggests that you should stay away from them.

Additional sugar

Now that we know a lot of research indicating that fat, not sugar, has increased heart disease risk financed by fast food companies protect the reputation of sugar, doctors of all kinds are united in it to think that it is pretty awful for you. It's not that you can not have them, except that the healthy limit is probably less than you think. The average American eats 19.5 teaspoons of sugar per day – the recommended limit is less than half. It's nine teaspoons (38 grams) for men and only six (25 grams) for women. For reference, a single Snickers bar contains 27 grams of sugar.

But all that goes for added sugar. Nutritionists agree that you can eat as many pieces of fruit as you want. Your body needs to work much harder to dissolve solid, natural foods like that, which helps to reduce the impact of sugars in a peach or an apple. With a new decision by the Food and Drug Administration, manufacturers must start identifying supplemental sugar separately from naturally occurring sugar, which should help you identify the worst culprits. Apart from that, products like maple syrup are still full of sugar, which are not good for you no matter how natural they are.

Any questions?

Talk to your doctor! Your personal situation may require different dietary guidelines and your doctor should help you find out what works best (or at least guide you to a certified dietitian). General heart health guidelines are great, but personalized recommendations can not be replaced.

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