5 Foods to Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes: A Comprehensive Guide

The best way to prevent heart disease is to eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, if at all. Red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and trans fats should be avoided. Adding ground flaxseeds to your diet is an easy way to get healthy fats and fiber.

Flaxseeds are small, brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that flaxseed can lower unhealthy cholesterol levels in some people. You can grind flaxseeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and mix a teaspoon of them with yogurt, applesauce, or hot cereal. Fish is a great alternative to high-fat meats.

Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce blood fats called triglycerides. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, walnuts, soy and canola oil. Salmon meat is especially beneficial for heart health as the omega-3s found in it can prevent erratic heart rhythms, reduce the likelihood of blood clots forming inside the arteries, improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, and prevent cholesterol from being damaged. Garlic has also been found to have a positive effect on heart health.

It can help lower blood pressure, platelet aggregation, serum triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels. Sardines are another food that can benefit your heart health. These tiny fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and niacin which is an important B vitamin that can increase HDL (good cholesterol). Studies have also shown that sardines can be beneficial for brain health.

Prunes are often associated with sweet grandmothers but they offer plenty of health benefits too. Prunes are loaded with fiber and absorb LDL (bad cholesterol). They also contain high levels of iron which may protect you against colon cancer. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and kale are also beneficial for heart health as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Starting your day with a large bowl of fiber-rich oatmeal can reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and keeping your arteries clean. Eating more vegetables in general is also beneficial for heart health as it can reduce the risk of stroke by 11 percent for every additional 200 g of vegetables you eat. Broccoli seems to be particularly cardioprotective as it contains a compound called sulfurophan which may prevent heart disease. Eating these vegetables raw or lightly steamed is the best option to maximize their heart-healthy potential.

Legumes such as lentils can also have a big impact on blood pressure. An analysis published in the journal Stroke found that consuming legumes had an 82 percent reduction in the risk of death from heart disease. Lentils are an excellent source of magnesium and folic acid which are both crucial for cardiovascular health. They are also fairly low in calories so adding lentil soup to your menu on a regular basis could lead to weight loss too.

Be careful with foods that claim to be low in sodium because they are seasoned with sea salt instead of regular table salt as sea salt has the same nutritional value as common salt.