5 foods to eat to help your heart

Choosing to add certain types of food to your diet can benefit your cardiovascular health.

Looking to keep your heart in top shape? You need to feed it well, by choosing nutritious foods that help keep your arteries clear and protect against damage. Researchers have consistently found that opting for a Mediterranean-style diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and healthy fats — is best for cardiovascular health, says Teresa Fung, adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With this in mind, she recommends aiming to put some specific heart-healthy options on your plate each day. Here are five foods you can add to your diet to benefit your heart.

1. Extra-virgin olive oil

Drizzle it over a salad, or use it to sauté an assortment of colorful vegetables; either way, this oil has a proven track record when it comes to your heart health. Olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol. Extra-virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which work in your body to prevent damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm cells, including those that make up the walls of your arteries. When the arterial walls are damaged, it's easier for fatty deposits to stick and form blood-blocking plaques, says Fung. So, keeping them healthy should be a priority.

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