Heart disease is the number one cause of mortality in the U.S., accounting for approximately 25% of stateside deaths. While genetics can predispose some people to cardiovascular problems, lifestyle choices are a significant contributor to both heart disease and heart disease mortality. That’s why it’s so important to limit stress, get adequate exercise, and make sure you’re steering clear of foods that can contribute to your heart disease risk, like deep-fried snacks and high-sugar treats.
That said, when it comes to keeping your heart healthy, it’s not just the foods you’re not eating that count. According to registered dietitians, keeping the correct foods on your plate is just as important in terms of protecting your cardiovascular wellbeing over time.
“Beans are a filling, high-fiber and micronutrient and antioxidant-rich food that plays an important role in an overall heart-healthy and Mediterranean diet, both for meat and non-meat eaters,” Greeley explains.
Among her favorites? Black beans and soybeans.
“Black beans have high levels of phytonutrients called flavonoids, which have antioxidant abilities,” Greeley explains. “They also contain small amounts of ‘good’ omega-3 fats. They are praised for their role in combatting cardiovascular disease while also helping to manage weight and diabetes.”
“Edamame is high in fiber, protein, good fats (both poly- and mono-unsaturated), vitamin K, and isoflavones. The isoflavones have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may be protective against heart disease (and other chronic diseases). They have been shown to help improve cholesterol levels by lowering total and ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol.”
In fact, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, individuals who ate beans four or more times a week had a 22% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease and an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who ate beans one time a week or less. So, if you’re looking for a filling, meat-free meal that also benefits your cardiovascular health, try adding some beans to your favorite veggie dish or making a three-bean salad with some heart-healthy olive oil.
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