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February is the month of the American heart. Of course, it’s a good idea to eat a nutrient-rich diet year-round, but this month Fox News Digital highlights some products that are especially beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Read on and don’t forget to download these power stars right away.

Dark leafy greens

It’s time to load spinach, cabbage, greens and other dark leafy greens. This recommendation comes from Aiza Kujawski, MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition LLC, which after 10 years of service in the Navy and the loss of its veteran brother committed suicide to a career in helping people use food as medicine.

“Dark leafy greens are the power of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, micronutrients and biologically active plant compounds known as phytochemicals,” says Kujawski, citing a 2018 scientific review published in Nutrients.

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“These nutrients are thought to protect against cardiovascular disease through a variety of mechanisms, including altering gene expression, regulating blood pressure and reducing inflammation in the body,” she says. “Numerous studies have demonstrated an association between the consumption of dark leafy greens and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

To learn more about dark leafy greens and their health benefits, check out: Dark leafy greens: superfood needed.

Olive oil

Erin Kenny, MS, RD, LDN, HCP, CPT, Registered Nutritionist and CEO of Nutrition Rewired – it’s all about incorporating olive oil into your diet to keep your ticket satisfied.

“Consumption of olive oil, particularly extra-virgin, is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in people with high cardiovascular risk,” she says.

“Olive oil is rich in beneficial antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats,” she said, adding that to get the most out of olive oil, avoid heating the oil and use it instead. salads or add it to homemade hummus.

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Avocado

If you needed another reason to eat more guacamole, here it is. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, says Amy Adams, RDN, LDN.

“Monounsaturated fats increase the rate of LDL clearance (“ bad ”cholesterol), which means our body gets rid of them faster. Higher LDL levels can be harmful because LDL brings cholesterol to the heart, ”she explains. “One study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that overweight and obese people who ate more avocados had the ability to significantly lower LDL cholesterol compared to overweight / obese people who ate a low-fat diet. moderate fats. “

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Echoing Adams, Kenny says adding avocados to his daily diet can help lower bad cholesterol, which in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, according to health researchers from Penn State.

“Avocados contain beneficial monounsaturated fats in addition to potassium and magnesium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure,” she says.

Berries

“Berries like blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are high in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body,” says Kujawski, referring to a 2010 study in Nutrition Reviews. “These processes improve blood pressure, vascular function and fight the formation of free radicals. Thus, clinical studies have shown that berries help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Christy Ruth, RD, LDN, Carrotsandcookies.com, emphasizes the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables in general to improve heart health.

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“It will increase your intake of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more,” she says.

“However, blueberries have been singled out as an excellent food when it comes to improving heart health,” she continues, noting that they have many antioxidants, including anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid, phytonutrient group or plant chemical substances that are incredible. for heart health.

Beans

Beans are an excellent source of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, says Fox News Digital Iza Kujawski, MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition LLC.
(iStock)

“Beans are a heart-healthy food consisting of fiber and various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They increase the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and promoting digestive well-being,” said Kujawski, emphasizing the published study. in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. “Beans are rich in soluble fiber, which acts as food for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting healthy gut flora, which is an important factor in overall heart health.”

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Adams is also all over the Bean team. “Beans contain plant sterols / stanols. Plant sterols / stanols work in our body as active compounds that are very similar in structure to cholesterol, ”she explains. “Thus, plant sterols / stanols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the small intestine. In general, this leads to less accumulation of cholesterol in our blood. One study found that consuming 2-4 grams of plant sterols / stanols a day can lower cholesterol. cost 10% “.

Salmon

Erin Kenny, CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends eating two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish a week.

Erin Kenny, CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends eating two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish a week.
(iStock)

“Salmon contains omega-3 fats, which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmia and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease,” says Kenny. “These essential fats help reduce inflammation in the body. If you don’t like salmon, you can get the same benefits from a supplement based on a meta-analysis that found that omega-3 fish oil supplements reduce the risk of heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.” .

Kenny recommends eating two to three servings of salmon or other high-fat fish (such as herring, anchovies or mackerel) a week.

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Whole grains

Think barley, oatmeal, brown rice, millet, wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and more.

“While refined carbohydrates are gaining a bad reputation because of their negative health effects and increased risk of heart disease, whole grains have the opposite effect,” says Christine Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, advisor to Exercisewithstyle.com. “These grains, which are incredibly nutritious because they contain all parts of the grain, protect the heart. Many studies have demonstrated the link between whole grain consumption and heart health.”

Grapes

Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system.

Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system.
(iStock)

“Grape skins contain resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants that have been shown to benefit the human body. More specifically, resveratrol is part of the stilbenoid family. Stilbenoids are naturally occurring compounds in response to damage. The purpose of stylbenoids is to protect the plant, “says Adams.

“Similarly, resveratrol has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system,” Adams adds. “Several studies have identified that heart disease may be associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial damage. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, stimulate nitric oxide endothelial production, and inhibit vascular inflammation.”

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Walnuts

These crunchy, softly sweet nuts are good for heart health.

“Of all the nuts, walnuts are special because they have the highest percentage of omega-6, omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats that protect the heart,” says Adams. “One study by The New England Journal of Medicine assessed whether walnut consumption affected lipid levels and blood pressure. In a study of 18 healthy men on two different diets, 20% of calories in one group came from walnuts. Each diet were observed for a total of four weeks.In conclusion, participants who ate more walnuts reduced their total cholesterol by 12.4%, reduced their LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) by 16.3%. ”

Walnuts are also sound research-based foods to support cognition and brain health.

Flax seeds

Flaxseed is “one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fat (ALA), which is great for heart health,” Ruth says, citing research in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

She also comments that flaxseed is high in fiber and lignans (phytochemicals), and that both of these substances are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Due to the fiber content, flaxseed also aids digestion.

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