The human heart is truly a remarkable organ: it pumps from the time it’s developed in the womb until the moment that we pass away. On average, the heart beats around 1 billion times, always ensuring that there’s enough blood being pushed throughout the circulatory system of the body to keep the cells well-nourished.
Like most of our organs, our heart starts to take strain the older we get, and it’s why most heart disease begins to occur in those that are over the age of 50. Often enough, this is more of an indication of lifestyle factors rather than genetic components, meaning that changing certain habits and eating the right kind of diet can give the heart the resources it needs to work properly well into our golden years. These are some of the foods that are best for improved heart health.
Dark, Leafy Greens
One recommendation that both doctors and nutrition experts will make is to try and incorporate dark, leafy greens into our daily diet. Humans evolved eating leaves of this variety, and they were often our primary source of vitamins and minerals, something that has not changed even to this day. There is a variety of greens to choose from, but some of the best include spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy, and more. Eating greens during every meal can mean serious benefits for the heart, but they also provide much of the calcium that we need.
Much like leafy greens, humans have been consuming grains in one form or another for hundreds of thousands of years, and they’ve long been an important staple for almost all cultures throughout the globe. It’s important to focus on whole grains, such as oats, millet, quinoa, and others, rather than them in their refined state. White bread, for instance, is technically made of a grain, but the refinement process has stripped virtually all of its nutritional content and has actually turned into a form of food that can cause damage to the heart rather than help it.
Free radicals are molecules that are released throughout the body, usually due to environmental pollutants and other means, and they can lead to something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes damage around the body down to the cellular level and can eventually cause the heart to fail. The only way to counteract this is by consuming berries, which contain antioxidants; antioxidants render the free radicals inert before they can do any damage, and they can be eaten at any time, such as while reading the news. Any berries are good, but in particular barberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are some of the healthiest.
While eating nuts and seeds is recommended for most people, some nuts tend to be better than others, and walnuts sit at the top of the list. They’re packed with fibre, and micronutrients, and research has confirmed that they are great for better heart health. Much like berries, getting a handful of walnuts every day can make a big difference to the health and longevity of the heart.