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Nutrition: What Foods Are Good for My Heart?

March 15, 2018

Bijal Dave, MD, is a family physician specializing in diet-oriented treatment of chronic diseases and a medical staff member at Atlantic Health System’s Hackettstown and Newton medical centers.

Q: What foods are good for my heart?

A heart-healthy diet is not only good for our heart but also for our waistline and our pockets in the long term. Eating certain foods on a regular basis can certainly reduce the risk of heart disease.

Turmeric

The yellow spice that gives Indian curries their distinctive color has been known for its medicinal properties in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. Science is now backing up that curcumin, turmeric’s active compound, has a plethora of health benefits.

It can benefit the heart in multiple ways. It has heavy-duty antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet activity, which means it not only lowers inflammatory changes that are the root cause of heart disease, but it also acts as a blood thinner, which prevents clot formation in heart disease. It also helps in the repair of cardiac muscle after a cardiac event occurs.

Fish

Those high in omega-3s, such as Atlantic mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, trout – and cod liver oil – should be consumed at least thrice weekly for optimum heart benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, and reduce irregular heartbeats.

Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios … munch on a handful of them, a couple of times a week, and you will be doing the old “ticker” a big favor. They are also rich in fiber and plant sterols, which reduce cholesterol; vitamin E, which helps reduce the development of plaque in arteries; and L-arginine, which improves the flexibility of arterial walls, thereby reducing incidence of narrowing and making one less prone to blood clots.