How to help your arteries? Consider some chocolate. Cocoa beans are rich in flavanols—plant compounds that have antioxidant properties and may benefit your heart. A 2017 analysis of the research done on chocolate published in the journal Nutrients found that people who regularly ate chocolate (in moderation) had a lower risk of heart failure. Nutritionists recommend dark chocolate over other types—that high cacao percentage (above 70 percent) means the bar has more beneficial compounds. Eat more of these 12 foods if you want to improve your circulation.
Like a lot of beans, coffee beans—and the java you get from them—deliver healthy antioxidants. In research, coffee seems to have potential to lower the risk of cardiac disease; the caffeine may also help your ticker. When scientists recently gave mice the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee, they discovered that the cells lining the mice’s blood vessels began to work more efficiently.
While most nutritional guidelines acknowledge that a little wine (and other types of alcohol) in moderation may be good for your heart, they do so with a strong caution, says Dr. Rader. He points out that there’s no direct cause and effect—researchers haven’t established that drinking wine lowers your risk; they only know that people with a lower risk of heart disease tend to drink wine. That’s why no one is handing out free passes to drink as much as you want: Limit yourself to no more than one four-ounce glass of wine a day if you’re a woman—two for men. Keep in mind you might get similar benefits with any type of alcohol.
Heart specialists used to warn people to stay away from eggs because they have a lot of cholesterol. But the research suggests that the cholesterol in your food doesn’t have that much of an impact on the levels in your blood, says Taub-Dix. In fact, fats in eggs seem to boost the good HDL cholesterol in your blood (it helps prevent the buildup of plaque in vessel walls). A study conducted in China and published in the journal Heart suggested that a moderate intake of eggs (less than one a day) was associated with an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with never eating them. Don’t miss these 30 ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
They’re fiber- and antioxidant-rich, and one study, published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, found that eating three servings a week may reduce the risk of a heart attack by a third in women. Researchers credit anthocyanins, compounds in berries that may help dilate blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pass through.
Benefits abound in this brew—and British researchers found a potential new bonus: They were focusing on a compound known as EGCG, which has shown promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that the same molecule could shrink fatty deposits on artery walls. In previous research, scientists demonstrated that green tea could lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, too.
Probiotics get a lot of attention because they support the populations of healthy bacteria in your gut. But did you know that you can repopulate your intestines with the good healthy bacteria found in foods like kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha? Emerging research indicates that the foods (and the bacteria they contain) may help lower your blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol levels.