Your weight and risk for heart disease are connected. If you are overweight, you are more likely to develop conditions (like high blood pressure or diabetes) that can lead to heart disease. There are ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and weight loss is one of them.
What Is Heart Disease?
“Heart disease” is a general term used to refer to various issues that affect the heart’s function — like heart attack or rhythm problems. This is often confused with cardiovascular disease, which deals with heart and blood vessel issues, specifically conditions that cause problems with blood flow to the heart.
Why is this important? The CDC reports heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Further, 11.7% of American adults (more than 1 of every 10) have been diagnosed with heart disease. The good news is that you can do something about it. Research shows even small amounts of weight loss can improve heart health.
Heart Health Benefits of Weight Loss
The benefits of weight loss go far beyond a smaller pants size or improved energy. Losing weight can help:
Lower your blood pressure. If you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. When your heart has to pump harder, it increases your blood pressure, which can lead to high blood pressure or stroke.
Lower your cholesterol. Genes and environmental influences can impact your cholesterol levels. However, if you are overweight and eat lots of unhealthy foods, you could be at risk for high cholesterol. Losing weight can lower your cholesterol, which balances the fats in your bloodstream to help your heart function normally.
Reduce the risk of diabetes. Diabetes elevates your blood sugar levels and puts you at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Weight loss can help manage blood sugar levels and improve your chance of avoiding heart problems.
Foods to Boost Heart Health
Your diet plays a significant role in your heart health. Certain foods can contribute to cholesterol levels and inflammation, which are risk factors for heart disease. Here are five RM-approved foods that are heart-healthy:
- Leafy green vegetables. Kale and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain vitamin K, which can improve arterial function and help reduce blood pressure.
- Berries. Berries are also rich in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation, contributing to heart disease development.
- Fish. Salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce heart disease risk factors like cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes have lycopene, a natural plant pigment with antioxidant properties to help prevent inflammation.
- Green Tea. Green tea is associated with many health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity. It also has polyphenols and catechins, which reduce inflammation and protect the health of your heart.
Looking for additional foods to boost your health? Explore seven superfoods to incorporate into your diet.