Nuts, beans and chocolate are three foods that increase heart health. Because heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States, focusing on heart health by making the right lifestyle changes is critical. Some of these habits involve the diet, as stated by CNN.
Tree nuts are a terrific protein source, and they also give the body nutrients that keep the heart healthy. The unsaturated fats in these nuts reduce levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol while increasing the levels of HDL "good" cholesterol. They also contain arginine, an amino acid that creates nitric oxide, a gas that helps blood vessels relax, facilitating blood flow. People who eat nuts regularly are 25 percent less likely to have heart disease as their cause of death, notes CNN.
People who eat legumes daily have a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who rarely eat them, because beans have soluble fiber, an element that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They also are high in folate, which reduces homocysteine in the blood, a biomarker for cardiovascular disease. Beans are also a protein source that has much less fat than animal sources, according to CNN.
Chocolate has polyphenols and flavonoids that help the heart. Polyphenols are antioxidants that cut inflammation as well as the risk of narrowing arteries. Flavonoids are metabolites that make the arteries more supple and boost healthy blood flow. The benefit comes from cacao within the chocolate, so it is important to choose chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao, states CNN.