5 Foods that Are Surprisingly Good for Your Heart
By now, you probably know that salmon and blueberries are good for your heart. In fact, you're probably sick of hearing that salmon and blueberries are good for you. Fortunately, you can keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low and still enjoy a more varied diet. Here are five foods that are surprisingly good for your heart.
Garlic: This stinky plant is known for warding off vampires, but it could also ward off a heart attack. A chemical in garlic called allicin has been shown to relax blood vessels, which causes the blood to flow more smoothly, according to research done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. How do you get the biggest boost from garlic? Crush (don't chop) the cloves before cooking with them.
Curry: You may not be the most pleasant-smelling person if you eat all the foods on this list, but your heart will be in tip-top shape. Turmeric, a spice used in traditional Chinese and Indian curries, may reduce the risk of heart failure. In fact, tests run on mice at Canada's Toronto General Hospital found that turmeric helped heal their hearts and made them pump blood more efficiently.
Beans: Like oatmeal, beans are good for your heart because they are high in fiber, and fiber is known to help lower the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. One of the best sources of fiber is red kidney beans-one cup contains more than 13 grams of fiber-more than half of the daily recommended amount for women (which is 20 grams a day. It's 30 grams for men.)
Cheese: Cheese often gets a bad rap when it comes to heart healthy selections, but it's not always a poor choice. In moderation, cheese-and the calcium that comes from it-may be good for you. Calcium can help keep blood pressure levels under control. However, cheese often does contain saturated fat (which isn't so good for your heart), so choose your cheeses wisely. Yak cheese (look for it in gourmet or specialty grocery stores) has been shown to be better for the heart than cheese made from cow's milk. For a more economical choice, look for low-fat or part-skim cheeses, and eat no more than one or two slices a day. It's still better to get calcium from skim milk or yogurt.
Grape juice: Specifically, purple grape juice, which contains the same heart-healthy compounds that are found in red wine. Both grape juice and red wine (which has received considerably more attention) may help lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol, reduce the risk of developing blood clots, and keep blood pressure levels in check. Sure, grape juice isn't as fun to drink as red wine, but it's more socially acceptable to have a glass of it with breakfast.
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