Eating healthily can help you to keep at a good weight, lower your cholesterol, and reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Adopting a healthy diet can also help you to look after your heart. So, if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, here are 12 foods that you should consider adding to your diet.
Tomatoes are full of vitamins, and concentrated tomato products are the major dietary source of lycopene. Lycopene has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, especially if your current diet isn't giving you all the antioxidants you need.
Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
Make fresh tomato sauce for pasta using passata or tomatoes or add tomatoes to your sandwiches or salads.
Garlic has long been heralded for its health-boosting properties. Studies suggest it may delay hardening of the arteries and help prevent heart disease.
Garlic also has a high antioxidant content and regular consumption of garlic has been found to lower blood pressure by up to 8%.
If you don’t like adding garlic to your food, it is possible to buy odourless supplements.
Walnuts are a great source of fibre as well as micronutrients such as magnesium, copper and manganese. Research has found that including a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help protect against heart disease.
According to one review, eating walnuts can reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by up to 16%. Another study in 365 participants showed that diets supplemented with walnuts led to greater decreases in LDL and total cholesterol.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are full of important nutrients that help to keep your heart healthy.
Berries are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease.
A study has found that eating blueberries daily improved the function of cells that line the blood vessels, which help control blood pressure and blood clotting. Other studies show that eating berries was associated with reductions in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and body mass index.
Blueberries or raspberries make a great snack at any time of day. Or, add a handful of berries to oats and yogurt for a filling and healthy breakfast.
Green tea is full of polyphenols and catechins, which can act as antioxidants to prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation, and protect the health of your heart.
Studies have found that a higher intake of green tea catechins was associated with significantly lower levels of LDL and total cholesterol, and that green tea decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Take a green tea supplement or drink matcha (similar to green tea but made with the whole tea leaf) to benefit heart health.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout contain beneficial fats, which help manage blood clotting and boost your circulation.
Guidelines generally recommend eating two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily variety. Use gentle methods of cooking such as poaching and baking to protect the heart-healthy oils.
Avocados are a terrific source of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. They are also very high in potassium, which should support healthy blood pressure levels.
A large study of more than 17,000 people also found that people who ate avocados regularly were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome.
A study has also found that avocadoes could aid weight loss. If revealed that people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next five hours, compared to people who did not consume the fruit.
Barley is a good source of soluble fibre, which binds to cholesterol and related substances in the gut, keeping fats from building up in the body where they might eventually clog your arteries.
Barley also slightly reduces cholesterol production in the liver, which can further help keep your lipid levels in check.
Fibre also helps keep you feel full, which prevents overeating and helps with weight control. If you can’t find barley, other whole grains such as oats are a great alternative.
Leafy greens are a great source of compounds that benefit your heart and vascular system. They are also rich in fibre, which can lower bad cholesterol and reduce heart disease.
Add spinach leaves to salad or serve chard or kale as an accompaniment to your meal. Or, consider crunch broccoli with a dip as a snack.
Almonds are an excellent source of nutrients, full of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to heart health. They also contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats and fibre.
Research suggests that eating almonds can have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels, too.
Bear in mind that while they are nutrient-rich, almonds are also high in calories. Don’t eat too many if you’re trying to lose weight!
Olive oil is an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which can help lower your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
Extra-virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which work in your body to prevent damage caused by unstable molecules called ‘free radicals’ that can harm cells, including those that make up the walls of your arteries. When the walls of your arteries are damaged, it's easier for fatty deposits to stick and form blood-blocking plaques, so it’s important to keep them healthy.
Drizzle olive oil over a salad or use it to sauté an assortment of nutrient-rich vegetables. It’s also a good idea to substitute olive oil for unhealthy saturated fats, which are found in other fats such as butter.
Wholegrains provide vitamins, minerals, and fibre that will help to keep your heart healthy and lower LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.
Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan that helps reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Indeed, a 2015 study reported in the American Journal of Nutrition found that whole-grain oats might be the most effective whole grain for lowering cholesterol.
Consider soaking oats overnight in a skimmed milk. In the morning, serve your soft oats with fat-free yogurt and fruit, for a tasty, healthy, and filling breakfast.
Use wholegrain bread for sandwiches and consider switching from white pasta and rice to wholegrain.
The British Heart Foundations says that there are around 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK: 3.9 million men and 3.5 million women.
If you suffer from a heart condition, you may be concerned that you won’t be able to get the life insurance that you need.
However, the truth is that many insurers will consider offering life insurance to applicants with heart conditions.
If you have a heart condition, it can pay to speak to an insurance broker who specialises in helping people with medical conditions to get covered. If you have a heart condition, we can compare life insurance quotes and work with insurers to help you to get the cover you need.
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure or cholesterol we have more dedicated information available on the below links