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Dark chocolate, red wine and other delicious heart-healthy superfoods to work into your diet

by , 29 July 2016
Dark chocolate, red wine and other delicious heart-healthy superfoods to work into your diet
In South Africa, heart disease is right up there with diabetes and HIV Aids as a leading cause of death. The good news is that we're now educated on how we can prevent heart problems like heart attacks and strokes.

Healthy habits like following a nutritious eating plan, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing cardiovascular problems. Keep reading to learn which superfoods you should add to your diet to keep your body's most important organ happy for decades to come.

Six heart-healthy superfoods

#1: Berries
Berries including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are all excellent for your heart. It’s the powerful antioxidants known as flavonoids in berries that give this fruit its fantastic heart-healthy properties. Flavonoids dilate your blood vessels and reduce your blood pressure. Research has shown that women who eat three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week are 32% less likely to have a heart attack compared to those who eat less.
 
#2: Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, nectarines and grapefruit are chock-full in vitamin C. This essential vitamin has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Research has shown that women who eat lots of citrus fruits are 19% less likely to have an ischemic stroke (the most common type of stroke caused by a blood clot) than those who eat less. However, if you’re currently taking statin drugs for high cholesterol, be warned that grapefruit can interfere with the medication, so you should eat other types of citrus fruit instead.
 
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#3: Dark chocolate
It’s no secret that dark chocolate is a heart-healthy food – everyone knows this by now. But what you may not know is that it’s the flavonoids known as polyphenols in dark chocolate that give it its heart health qualities. Polyphenols are linked to reduced risk of blood clotting and high blood pressure, two major hallmarks of heart attack. Research has shown that eating dark chocolate daily can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack – even if you’re at high risk for these health problems due to family history or health conditions.
 
#4: Nuts
Nuts including peanuts, almond, walnuts and macadamia nuts are all packed to the brim with heart-healthy fibre and vitamin E, both of which prevent high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It’s true that nuts are also high in fat, and despite what you may have been told, this is actually a good thing – healthy fats like omega-3s which are copious in walnuts are fantastic for your ticker.
 
#5: Salmon
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are, like walnuts, abundant in omega-3s, which are fatty acids that are brilliant for your heart. Research has shown that consuming a diet rich in omega-3s will lower your risk of irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia, as well as plaque build-up in your arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. If you’re not a big fish fan, you can get your omega-3 fix by supplementing your diet with a fish oil supplement.
 
#6: Red wine
I bet all of you vino lovers are happy to see red wine on this list! Here’s the thing though – red wine is only going to keep your heart healthy if you consume it in moderation. So don’t overdo it – of you drink more than two glasses a day, you can actually increase your risk of heart disease. It’s the polyphenol known as resveratrol in red wine that makes it heart beneficial. If you don’t drink alcohol, you’ll be happy to know that you can also find resveratrol in other foods such as cranberries, grapes and peanut butter.
 
How many of these heart-healthy superfoods do you eat on the regular?

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