Author: Jason Phillips
Looking after your heart is incredibly important, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular problems. But it can be tricky to avoid the wrong foods and choose the right foods. Here are 3 foods you can utilize to improve cardiovascular health over summer, as well as 2 supplements you could include to avoid extra guilt.
1. Dark Chocolate
Recent evidence suggests that the cacao plant can provide notable benefits for your heart and cardiovascular system. Dark chocolate especially, which is the least processed and most full of beneficial compounds, is the first place to start looking. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can help boost your circulation while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Plus, because it’s very bitter, it’s good for snacking on as you’re unlikely to devour a whole bar as you might with milk chocolate. One important note here is for sufferers of migraines – dark chocolate can be a migraine trigger for some, so it may well be worth avoiding if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing.
Here are 7 more dark chocolate health benefits for you chocolate lovers.
Any kind of berry would work here, but blueberries are the best of the best. Chock-full of antioxidants, blueberries provide seemingly countless benefits. Antioxidants help prevent the build-up of free radicals – which have been shown to help full issues such as aging, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. What’s more, these tiny berries are low in fat while being rich in vitamins K, A, C, and the mineral phosphorous. But where do they come in with heart health?
The aforementioned antioxidants in blueberries can help prevent cholesterol build-up. If blueberries aren’t your thing, the main antioxidant responsible for this (Anthocyanin) can also be found in red grapes, blackberries, and blackcurrants. Add these in as a summer treat and you’ll be super healthy.
3. Red Wine
Surprisingly, red wine counts as a healthful thing on this list! Red wine contains certain antioxidants that increase high-density lipoprotein – in other words, the ‘good’ kind of cholesterol. This can help prevent damage to your arteries. To add this, a particular substance called resveratrol is found in red wine. Early animal-based studies suggest that this can prevent blood clots and protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.
Of course, red wine also has negative effects – it is alcohol after all – so this doesn’t mean you should be swapping it out for every meal. In moderation, however, red wine can be enjoyed to boost cardiovascular health.
4. Red Clover Tablets
If you’re looking for something to add to your daily routine that can boost heart health so you can enjoy your favorite foods over summer, then red clover tablets are one potential option. Red clover tablets are still in the earlier stages of research, but there is limited evidence to suggest that they can help reduce blood pressure, as well as helping with post-menopausal symptoms in women.
If you are considering taking red clover tablets, make sure you check your medication first as it can interact with estrogen-based medication such as birth control, medication related to blood clots or liver problems, and some cancer medications. If you’re worried, chat with a doctor first.
5. Green Tea Extract
Another potential tablet you can add in is green tea extract (or just green tea as a drink if you prefer). Green tea has been shown in numerous research pieces to provide benefit for cardiovascular health. One key study found that those who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack.
However, it’s worth noting that drinking this much could give you kidney stones. Aim for around three cups a day rather than five. Green tea helps lower cholesterol levels and – especially in concentrate form with a focus on the key element of catechins – seems to lower risk of coronary heart disease. Whether you choose to drink it or take it as an extract, green tea is well worth adding to your summer plan – especially when you take a look at all the other health benefits of green tea.