Hi there! Want to live a long and healthy life? Then you need to start taking care of your heart! Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Every 36 seconds, one person dies from cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, you can make easy lifestyle modifications to keep your heart strong. And one of them is eating more red foods! Sounds bizarre, right? What does the color of food have to do with your heart health? Well, a lot.
Today we’ll be exploring red foods you need to eat for a healthy and strong heart. Why did tomatoes make it to the top of our list? Are red bell peppers any good for your health? We’ll be discussing all of this AND more…
Begin With Including Tomatoes In Your Regular Diet
Tomatoes don’t just make for an excellent pizza topping. This red-colored food is great for your health, especially your heart.
So what makes tomatoes special? The answer lies in an antioxidant called lycopene (lai·kuh·peen) found in tomatoes. This antioxidant can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you’re eating tomatoes for health benefits, always ensure you eat the skin too. The highest amount of lycopene lies in the skin of the tomatoes. As a general rule, the redder the tomato is, the more lycopene it will have.
Sauces and ketchup are the most common tomato products in Western diets. In the United States, around 80% of lycopene comes from these products, as well as tomato paste and juice. The lycopene you get from these products is often more than what you get from fresh tomatoes.
For instance, 100 grams of ketchup will give you around 10 to 14 milligrams of lycopene. But 100 grams of fresh tomato will only give you up to 8 grams. Of course, you won’t be eating a bottle of ketchup in one sitting. But tomato products are still a great way to get this antioxidant.
Experts credit lycopene for playing an important role in ensuring your heart health. Research has shown low levels of lycopene in your blood increase the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Studies have also shown tomato products can help fight against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Another way lycopene helps your heart is by reducing LDL cholesterols in your blood. LDL is the bad cholesterol responsible for many heart issues.
Still not convinced about eating more tomatoes? Eating tomatoes also lowers the risk of blood clot formation. Hmm, maybe it’s time for some tomato soup! Go on; Your heart will thank you later.
Next On Our List Is Red Bell Peppers
Bell peppers come in various colors- green, yellow, orange, and red. Green bell peppers are unripe, whereas red bell peppers are fully mature and mildly sweet but with an earthy taste.
Eat more red bell pepper if you want your heart to stay healthy and strong. They are packed with vitamins A and C. Half a cup of red bell peppers can give you as much as 47% of the vitamin A your body needs every day. The same amount of peppers also gives you 159% of the vitamin C you need daily.
The vitamin C in red bell peppers works as a powerful antioxidant. It can help prevent cell damage and has anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C boosts your immune system and fights off microbes, like bacteria, protecting your body from infections.
Red bell peppers are also a great source of iron. And get this! The Vitamin C in this veggie helps your body absorb iron more efficiently. Pairing red bell peppers with iron-rich food such as spinach and meat can help increase your iron intake.
It’s Time You Add Watermelon To Your Diet
Don’t like tomatoes? Another way to get lycopene- the heart health-boosting antioxidant- is to start including watermelon in your diet, as it’s rich in lycopene.
The best part is this red fruit is a refreshing summer delight. It’s juicy and sweet. You can eat it on its own, add it to your bowl of fruit salad, or make delicious watermelon smoothies.
Research shows the lycopene in watermelon can help reduce your cholesterol levels, preventing oxidative damage to your cells caused by high cholesterol and lowering your blood pressure.
Include watermelon in your diet as it is rich in an amino acid called citrulline. This amino acid can help raise your nitric oxide levels in the body. Higher nitric oxide can help expand your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure levels. High blood pressure levels can lead to a heart attack.
There are other nutrients in watermelon that can help your heart’s health. These include magnesium, vitamin B6 and potassium.
Watermelon contains other important nutrients like vitamins A and C. The combination of vitamin C, antioxidants, and lycopene ensures lower oxidative damage to your cells, reducing inflammation in your body. Lowering levels of inflammation means your risk of getting a chronic disease is significantly less.
A study conducted for 8 weeks among 31 people struggling with obesity and high inflammation levels showed a group given 500 milligrams of vitamin C twice daily significantly reduced inflammation in their body compared with a control group.
Another amazing fact about watermelon, the lycopene contained in this delicious fruit can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease!
Say Hello To Heart-healthy Tart Cherries
Have you ever tried tart cherry pie? Believe me; it’s delicious! Besides being a delight to your taste buds, tart cherries are great for your heart too.
And they’re so easy to include in your daily diet. You can enjoy cherries dried or frozen. Tart cherries juice is another popular way to get all the nutrients from this superfood.
Tart cherries owe all their incredible health benefits to their nutritional profile. You’ll get lots of essential vitamins and minerals from just a handful. If you’re susceptible to infections, tart cherries can be a great help! They have plant compounds to boost your immune system. Antibiotics in tart cherries are another reason you need them in your diet.
Studies have shown the effects of tart cherries on marathon runners’ upper respiratory tract after a race.
A group of runners was given tart cherry juice a few days before a race and after completing the run. The cherry group was then compared to a group given a placebo. Around 50% of the placebo group suffered from upper respiratory tract issues, while the tart cherries group did not have any problems.
Research also shows tart cherry juice can lower blood pressure levels in your body. It is also capable of minimizing the genes that cause cancer growth.
Build A Strong Heart With Strawberries
Strawberries and cream is my favorite dessert. Easy to make and a sweet treat! You will be surprised to know how great strawberries are for your health.
Packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, folate, potassium, and rich in antioxidants, strawberries boost your heart health.
Strawberries have over 25 anthocyanins (an-thuh-sahy-uhns). Anthocyanins are what give strawberries their bright red color, which offers a lot of health benefits.
Another advantage of strawberries is they have phenolic antioxidants. You’ll get as much as 2 to 11 times the phenolic antioxidants compared to other fruits. Strawberries have a good amount of Ellagitannins and ellagic (el·lag·ic) acid, which is good for your heart health.
Research has shown that anthocyanins in berries can help promote good heart health. Major studies have depicted a correlation between eating berries like strawberries and a lower risk of heart-related diseases.
Studies have shown that middle-aged adults with the risk of heart disease benefit from eating berries because they improve their good cholesterol and lower blood pressure levels. They also improved the functionality of their blood platelets.
Another 12-weeks study showed that those considered overweight or obese who ate freeze-dried strawberries significantly decreased their bad cholesterol and oxidized LDL particles. The study showed that participants also had a significant drop in inflammation.
All of this is good news for your heart!
Did you know that strawberries can also lower your risk of cancer by reducing oxidative stress levels in your body? You can eat this delicious fruit without guilt because it also helps regulate your blood sugar levels!
Remember, strawberries are always best eaten fresh. Although you can opt for strawberry jams and jellies, always try to avoid sugar-loaded brands.
Another Great Way To Ensure Heart Health Is By Eating Red Kidney Beans
Ever tried red kidney bean soup? Trust me; it’s delicious. And it’s good for your health too. Kidney beans are another superfood packed with antioxidants that promote a healthy heart. Just make sure you eat them well cooked. Raw or improperly cooked kidney beans can be toxic.
What makes red kidney beans your heart’s close friend? Red kidney beans contain folate and iron, giving you ample nutrients such as molybdenum, vitamin K1, and potassium. All these nutrients are great for your overall health.
Red kidney beans are also rich in plant compounds such as isoflavones (ai·soh·flay·vonez) and anthocyanins that act as antioxidants essential for a healthy heart.
Just 100 grams of boiled kidney beans can give you nearly 9 grams of protein, accounting for over 25% of calories. It also comes with starchy carbs, which amount to over 70% of the calories.
The carbs you get from these beans are slowly-released, meaning digestion takes longer. Slow digestion is beneficial for people who have type 2 diabetes, as it can make sure blood sugar levels gradually increase. As a result of red kidney beans lowering blood sugar levels, this red food scores low on the GI scale.
And balanced sugar levels mean a happy heart!
Last On Our List Is Red Grapes
Red grapes are another delicious red fruit that’s super good for your heart health. They are rich in antioxidants and fiber, which positively impact your heart. Wondering how? These nutrients help lower your blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and reduce heart-muscle damage caused by high salt diets.
Red grapes can improve your blood vessel function and positively impact your triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels. In short, eat more red grapes. Your heart will thank you.
A healthy heart is a sign of a healthy body.