Not only are fish a great source of lean protein, they are also the richest source of omega-3 fats. These anti-inflammatory fats lower triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and even reduce the formation of clots in your arteries. Together, this cleans and unclogs arteries, which in turn prevents heart disease.
An intake of 1 portion, 2 to 3 times a week is recommended by the American Heart Association. This can be of any fish available in the market including salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and cod. Most importantly, fish is easy to cook. It can be baked, steamed, grilled, and added to a curry, salad or even some pasta.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain high quantities of poly- and monounsaturated fats, minerals, and phytosterols. How are these helpful? Unsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol levels, minerals lower blood pressure, and phytosterols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system.
Walnuts and unsalted almonds are among the best nuts for heart health. Ideal seeds include chia, sunflower, pumpkin and flaxseeds. However, limited consumption of nuts and seeds is recommended, specifically one small handful a day, as the high content of monounsaturated fats also makes these foods calorie-dense. Nuts and seeds can be eaten as standalone snacks or added to granola, smoothies, salads and soups.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
These are some of your richest sources of potassium, fibre, and vitamins A, C, and K. Not only are they available year-around, they also come in a wide range of varieties (e.g. spinach, kale, arugula, amaranth greens, romaine and leafy lettuce). The potassium in these vegetables helps kidneys remove sodium from the body to lower blood pressure; cohort studies have time and again shown an inverse link between potassium consumption and the risk of stroke. The fibre reduces absorption of cholesterol in the gut while vitamins work in synergy to remove oxidising agents and therefore preventing LDL oxidation, a major risk factor of heart disease. At least one type of these vegetables should be consumed at mealtimes. This can be as a salad, soup, sabzi or curry.