Heart Healthy Food - How it Affects Your Brain Health
So far, for American Heart Month we've talked about exercises for heart and brain health, and then last week we talked about some of the trending diets and whether they’re a healthy choice for your heart.
Hopefully, you've been able to take some of this information and put it into practice in your own life for a healthier ticker. As we continue to celebrate American Heart Month, we wanted to take a closer look at eating a heart-healthy diet. Turns out some of those heart-healthy foods are great for brain health, too.
Berries like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. They can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and decrease your overall risk for heart disease.
But that's not all. Berries contain antioxidants that may protect your brain from oxidative stress, reducing your risk of age-related mental decline. Blueberries may even support the brain’s learning capabilities.
Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, collard greens, and kale are dark leafy greens that are packed with vitamin K, which helps protect arteries. Their dietary nitrates also lower blood pressure, making these veggies great for heart health. For your brain, spinach and other dark leafy green contain magnesium, which boosts blood flow to your brain.
Salmon and other types of oily fish are packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3s have been studied extensively and found to offer numerous heart benefits. The benefits of omega-3s don’t end there – they also play an essential role in brain health. They keep the brain fit and full, and some studies show that higher levels of omega-3s may prevent brain shrinkage with age.
New studies show that avocados are a great source of heart-healthy fats that are linked to lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease. All those healthy fats are also great for your brain. They can normalize blood flow to the brain, and healthier blood flow equals a healthier, happier brain, too.
This should make your day – dark chocolate is excellent for your heart. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can reduce the risk of plaque in your arteries and lower the risk of heart disease. Dark chocolate has another benefit – it's great for improving circulation to the brain. It may even stimulate the production of endorphins, making your brain feel happier. For the best results, go with quality dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa content.
While it's National Heart Month, many of the things you do to improve heart health (like eating healthy foods) also play a critical role in brain health. Check back next week – we have more heart and brain health tips to make sure you finish out the month strong.