Good heart health begins with a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating right and exercising regularly. Getting your body moving is important for heart maintenance as, like any engine, it needs to be used frequently in order to stay in top shape. And like all engines, it requires the proper fuel in order to run smoothly and keep your body functioning the way it’s supposed to.
In the case of the heart, that fuel is the essential nutrients. One of the best sources of nutrients is fruits and veggies, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other helpful substances. Most doctors recommend getting about five servings of fruit a day. That may seem excessive, but when you consider what fruit can do for you, it makes perfect sense.
While all fruits are certainly good for you, here are the top six fruits for your heart:
1. Berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are all extremely good for your cardiac health. That’s because they contain compounds call anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants not only give berries their pretty red and blue colors, they also work to decrease blood pressure and dilate the arteries to improve blood flow. According to recent studies, men and women who ate more than three servings of berries a week significantly lowered their risk of heart attack.
2. Citrus fruits – the citrus family, which includes oranges, grapefruits and lemons, are known for having high levels of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help rid the body of harmful free radicals. They have also been proven to help lower your risk for developing blood clots, which in turn lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, grapefruit can actually interfere with the action of certain cholesterol lowering drugs, so you should be careful if you are taking these drugs.
3. Tomatoes – yes, that’s right, tomatoes are actually a fruit and they are extremely good for your heart. That’s because they contain high levels of potassium, which promotes good heart health, and lycopene, a carotenoid, or high level antioxidant, that helps get rid of “bad” cholesterol. They also have the added bonus of being low in calories and low in sugar, which makes them a great addition to any healthy diet.
4. Avocados – these delicious fruits are rich in healthy fats that can actually lower the risk of heart disease by helping to lower the levels of cholesterol and other risk factors. At the same time, avocados are high in antioxidants and potassium, making them powerful fighters on many fronts. Due to their high fat content, however, they are also high in calories, so they need to be eaten in moderation.
5. Pomegranates – these are one of the “super foods”, known for their high levels of antioxidants, including heart-healthy polyphenols and anthocyanins. They can help to combat hardening of the arteries, thus improving blood flow to the heart. A regular serving of pomegranate juice each day can go a long way toward promoting good heart health.
6. Red Grapes – these little beauties contain resveratrol, a substance which helps to keep platelets in the blood from sticking together. This is the reason why some doctors recommend a glass of red wine to help improve cardiac health, but since alcohol consumption should generally be kept in check, you can get the same benefits from eating red or black grapes or drinking red grape juice.