A nutritious diet is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. When paired with regular physical activity, a nutritious diet can help people dramatically reduce their risk for various diseases, including heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization, ischaemic heart disease and stroke claim more lives each year than any other disease, annually accounting for roughly 15 percent of all deaths across the globe. Many deaths caused by heart disease can be prevented, and eating a healthy diet is a great preventive measure that anyone can take. February is American Heart Month, a prime time to focus on ways to improve your overall and heart health.
Though some people may associate healthy diets with bland foods that lack flavor, people can incorporate various heart-healthy herbs and spices into their favorite dishes to make them more nutritious and flavorful.
Garlic: Garlic has long since earned its place on the kitchen spice rack. However, botanically, garlic is neither an herb or a spice but a vegetable. Regardless of how it’s classified, garlic is loaded with flavor and can be used to improve just about any recipe, all the while benefitting heart health. The United States-based health services provider Mercy Health notes that garlic can help lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Cayenne pepper: Few ingredients may change a recipe as quickly as cayenne pepper. The addition of cayenne pepper can instantly make dishes more spicy. But cayenne pepper brings more than a little extra kick to the dinner table. Healthline notes that various studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, can provide a host of health benefits. One such study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that adding capsaicin to a high-carbohydrate breakfast significantly reduced hunger and the desire to eat before lunch. Eating less can help people more effectively control their body weight, which in turn reduces their risk for heart disease.
Turmeric: Garlic and even cayenne pepper may already be staples in many people’s kitchens, but that’s not necessarily so with turmeric. A yellow spice often used when preparing Indian foods, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to curcumin, the part of turmeric responsible for giving it its yellow color. Experts acknowledge that turmeric needs to be studied more to definitively conclude its effects on heart health, but WebMD notes that one small study indicated that turmeric can help ward off heart attacks in people who have had bypass surgery.
Coriander: A popular herb used across the globe, coriander is sometimes mistaken for cilantro. Though the two come from the same plant, cilantro refers to the leaves and stems of the coriander plant, while the coriander in recipes typically refers to the seeds of that plant. Mercy Health notes that coriander seeds may help reduce bad cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which are significant risk factors for heart disease.