These foods and supplements can help fight heart disease.

The clearest path to healthy living begins with eating the right foods. Combine eating healthy with regular exercise and good sleep to give your body the things it needs to help you fight infections and stress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of all adults in the U.S. (33.8%) are obese, and approximately 12.5 million children and teens ages 2 to 19 struggle with obesity. Even people who aren’t overweight but have an unhealthy diet are at risk for various illnesses and conditions like heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

Fat facts

A heart-healthy diet is full of flavor and variety. Start with incorporation good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) found in nuts, avocados and fish. These fats help move good and bad cholesterol through your body.

The reason trans and saturated fats (cakes, deep-fried foods) are considered unhealthy is partly due to the hydrogenation process used to keep food from going bad. Trans and saturated fats also increase bad cholesterol, known as LDL, and can lead to an increased risk for heart disease.

Know your phytos

Phytochemicals are bioactive compounds found in many vegetables, fruits, grains and tea. Research from the University of California, Davis, shows a link between consuming these foods and reduced risk for several types of disease due to phytochemicals’ antioxidant and free radical scavenging effect.

Of the thousands of compounds, flavonoids play a big part in helping our bodies fight disease. Flavonoids make up the largest group of phytochemicals and are responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease and helping maintain healthy blood pressure.

Diets high in fruits and vegetables have also been linked to helping reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, inflammation and certain cancers.

Heart healthy foods

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, sardines and mackerel.

Almonds and walnuts curb hunger while helping lower bad cholesterol levels with omega-3s, vitamin E, folate and polyunsaturated fats.

Berries are loaded with phytonutrients, flavonoids (antioxidants) and soluble fiber.

Flaxseed packs a heart- healthy punch of omega-3s, fiber and phytoestrogens.

Oatmeal can help lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and manage Type 2 diabetes.

Asparagus spears are nutrient- rich (beta-carotene, folate, fiber) and low in calories (5 calories per large spear).

Tomatoes, even sun- dried, provide lycopene (antioxidant), vitamin C, alpha- and beta-carotene.

Broccoli is a go-to superfood loaded with vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber.

Oranges, well known for vitamin C, also contain beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Green tea can help lower hypertension with catechin (antioxidant) and other flavonoids.

Dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa has been linked
to lowering blood pressure.

Raisins are high in potassium, can help reduce high blood pressure and can increase immune- boosting antioxidants.

Brussels sprouts can help reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system and aid in improving blood vessel health.

Cauliflower is bursting with antioxidants, is high in fiber and contains the phytonutrient allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Supplements that may promote heart health

Fiber helps cut down bad LDL cholesterol and can help raise good cholesterol, HDL. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water when adding fiber to your routine.

Coenzyme Q10 may aid in lowering blood pressure and is also touted as a possible treatment for the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

Garlic may help lower blood pressure and slow the buildup of plaque in arteries, lowering the risk of blood clots.

Fish oil, full of omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce the level of triglycerides — unhealthy fat found in blood — and may improve blood pressure.

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