Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, but eating a plant-based diet offers an incredible amount of hope for fighting this disease all by what we eat. A whole foods, plant-based diet has not only been shown to dramatically improve cholesterol, but also treat lower high blood pressure, prevent diabetes, and coronary artery disease. Other lifestyle factor such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising are also important, of course.

While the lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercising are up to you to decide, I’ve got some plant-based powerhouse sources of nutrients to share with you that will get you started on the food aspect of preventing heart disease naturally. These foods help with high cholesterol and high blood pressure concerns, as well as a few others such as reducing risks of gum disease, arterial wall hardening, and more.

This list is compromised of the easiest-to-access, healthiest foods possible to implement into your life on a daily basis. Check some of the recipe suggestions for each ingredient listed to start helping your heart today!

1. Celery

This naturally salty vegetable does more than make a mean Bloody Mary. It’s great at relaxing your arterial wall muscles, making blood flow easier and the process less strenuous on your system. This keeps blood pressure and hypertension down. What’s the best way to get celery’s nutrients? Juice several stalks a day. This vegetable is also great in stuffings, stir-frys, smoothies, soups and salads.

2. Kale

I know, I know, kale is so last season. However, this dark leafy green nonetheless still provides a whole platter of heart healthy nutrients in one easy serving. It’s got fibre, potassium, vitamin E, omega 3s and more. Kale can be cooked to breakdown its bitterness, juiced, tossed into smoothies or made into chips. Give kale some new use in this creative Kale and Roasted Corn Stir-Fry!

3. Tannin-Rich Teas

Teas has been used as alternative medicine therapies for thousands of years. Many of the benefits tea contains comes from common herbs, spices, and foods we know are good for us, but perhaps don’t really know why and how to use them. Tannins are great for overall heart health because they prevent against overall cell damage. They are also known to neutralize harmful bacteria in your mouth that can lead to plaque build-ups and gum disease. With gum disease being linked to heart disease, teas are a great natural option to possibly fight it off naturally. Steep some roots, herbs, leaves, flowers, etc. in hot water and enjoy with lemon or honey for added health boosts.

4. Sage

This spice can be just what you need to give your meal an added heart-wise boost. It helps to lower cholesterol levels linked to heart complications. Add this to your favorite tomato sauce for a heart healthy, tasty sauce. The cooking of tomatoes releases their amazing cardiovascular disease preventing property: lycopene. Toss some garlic in and you’ve got three out of ten prescribed foods on this list in just one sauce! Or try Fregula with Butternut Squash and Sage.

5. Avocado

We love the avocado and it loves us too! Fats are essential to healthy bodily functioning. The great fats in avocado (known as monounsaturated fats) help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. Plus, the dose of potassium avocados offer help reduce blood pressure, which also contributes to a healthier cardiovascular system.
Try Grilled Avocados With Roasted Tomatoes.

6. Garlic

Garlic is a superfood for cardiovascular health in countless ways. It helps reduce and maintain blood pressure. Some research shows that garlic can even reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure by as much as 7 or 8 percent. It’s even good for preventing and reducing hardening of the arteries, which happens as we age. Best when eaten raw or taken in pure extract form, this herb helps boost overall immunity, too. Try to eat at least a clove a day (this recipe makes it easy) or take a highly concentrated supplement extract for optimal results.

7. Cooked Oats

Oats offer a whole host of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals: potassium, magnesium, folate, calcium, omega 3s and more. Plus, they keep you feeling full and well-taken care of, leading you to eat less sugary/salty comfort foods later on that negatively effect your blood pressure. Oats win as well for providing us with extra energy necessary at times to get us moving and help our hearts out even more! Try out some amazing oatmeal today and get some tips more how to make your oatmeal more interesting with some creative add-in’s!

8. Raisins

What’s better in oatmeal than raisins? Toss the two together for a super heart healthy combo. Why? Because raisins have been shown to support heart health indirectly by providing antioxidants known to reduce gum inflammation and disease. Studies have shown that gum disease and heart disease are significantly linked, which makes raisins an easy, tasty way to take care of your teeth when eaten in moderate portions (dried fruit is still high in sugar, mind you.) Raisins are also high in potassium, contributing to healthy blood pressure levels.

9. Grapes

Fresh is best, right? So it stands to serve that while raisins are good for overall heart health maintenance, grapes are even better! For optimal results, think deep purples and reds rather than the light green or yellow grapes. Remember, eating them fresh and whole is always best for grapes since their water content contributes to faster satiety. However, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from roasting those grapes, either! Check out this festive recipe with roasted grapes for something new!

10. Potatoes

When you think of potatoes, think potassium. Potassium is literally essential to the beating of your heart; it helps push blood through to all other areas of your body. It’s the key to muscle cell health and rejuvenation. A diet high in potassium helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, according to Webmd, a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help lower systolic blood pressure by more than 10 points in people with hypertension. We love potatoes here at One Green Planet, so be sure to check out all of our yummy potato recipes!

Better eating is the easiest path to better health. Treat your heart right with these superfoods. Challenge your family, roommates or friends to see who can create the tastiest meal with the most heart healthy superfoods from the list.

Image Source: Kale and Roasted Corn Stir-Fry