Another green giant as far as heart health goes, these fibrous stalks are rich in quercetin, a phytonutrient that prevents plaque from sticking to your arteries. “Whether you have a family history of heart disease or are simply trying to prevent it, asparagus should be at the top of your shopping list,” Ansel says. Find out the 10 healthiest vegetables you can eat.
The reason cardiologists seem obsessed with taking your blood pressure? When it’s elevated, it can eventually wear out the lining of your blood vessels, leaving them less elastic and able to function normally. That can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. This juicy melon can help. “Watermelon is the number one source of citrulline,” says Ansel. Citrulline is an amino acid the body uses to produce nitric oxide, which may help keep blood vessels relaxed and pliable.
You may have the impression that carbs aren’t good for you, but that isn’t true. Whole grains—even in bread and pasta—are part of a heart-healthy diet. According to an analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for every 10 grams of whole grains people eat each day, their risk of heart disease dropped 14 percent; even better, their odds of dying from a heart attack fell 25 percent. This may be because whole grains are loaded with fiber, says Angela Lemond, RDN, a Plano, Texas-based nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Fiber helps pull cholesterol out of the body. It is also known to help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can have an indirect benefit on heart health.” Try swapping refined grains for unprocessed ones to reap the benefits.
Milk with DHA
As aging arteries stiffen up, says Lemond, they can begin to restrict your blood flow. Omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health—especially one known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It’s most commonly found in seafood, but if you’re not a fish fan, try DHA-fortified milk and eggs. Read about the 12 lifesaving breakthroughs in heart health.
Yes, you can have potatoes. Spuds are full of potassium: They give you more than double the amount in an average banana. That’s key because less than 2% of Americans are getting their recommended daily amount of potassium, and it’s helpful in regulating your blood pressure. Potatoes also have a decent amount of fiber, so as long as you don’t deep-fry them or slather them in butter and sour cream, they can be a surprisingly healthy choice.