Heart Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet
You’ve heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But don’t forget onions. Both foods contain constituents that are good for your health. They provide fiber and vitamins, for example. They’re also good sources of quercetin.
Quercetin is a beneficial plant compound that helps keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. By making blood platelets less likely to clump together, it helps thin the blood naturally. People who get plenty of quercetin, from foods like apples and onions, are less likely to develop clots and have a stroke. Quercetin appears to fight inflammation in the body, and it may also help protect against cancer, although the jury’s still out on that issue.
Garlic is also good for the heart. Compounds called allicin and S-allyl cysteine work to bring down high blood pressure. Garlic doesn’t stop there though. It protects the heart in several other ways, too, helping lower bad cholesterol levels and promoting blood vessel relaxation. Needless to say, garlic is savory and delicious in all kinds of dishes. Just avoid scorching it; scorched garlic is bitter and unpleasant. Crush garlic cloves, or chop finely to release more beneficial compounds before cooking.
You might think something as sinfully delicious as chocolate can’t really be good for you. But that’s not the case when it comes to real, high-quality chocolate. Skip the sugar-laced, low-cocoa stuff called milk chocolate. It’s has virtually none of the highly beneficial stuff found in real, high-cocoa-content chocolate. Dark chocolate can be an acquired taste, but it’s worth the effort. Chocolate has numerous health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidant polyphenols. Recent research shows that its benefits are two-fold. Some beneficial compounds get directly into the bloodstream. Others are metabolized in the gut by friendly bacteria, to produce still more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit the blood vessels and may even improve insulin sensitivity.
Ginter E1, Simko V.Garlic (Allium sativum L.) and cardiovascular diseases.Bratisl Lek Listy. 2010;111(8):452-6.