Did you know that certain foods can help protect you against heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer? Here's a review of heart-healthy foods to include more often in your diet.
Dietitians generally recommend at least two meals of fish every week for possible heart benefits. Fish oil capsules aren't a good substitute for fish. In high doses they pose risks, especially if you're regularly taking aspirin or a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Panwarfin).
Fortifying foods with folic acid is designed primarily to prevent spinal cord birth defects. However, adequate folic acid may also reduce the amount of homocysteine in your body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that builds and maintains tissues in your blood. Too much homocysteine can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or loss of circulation in your hands and feet (peripheral vascular disease).Vitamins B-6 and B-12 also help break down homocysteine in your body. Although both folic acid and vitamin B-6 supplements lower homocysteine levels, folic acid does so more effectively. Vitamin B-12 lowers homocysteine only if you're deficient in that vitamin.Although this is encouraging, no studies have shown that vitamin treatment to lower homocysteine levels results in decreased risk of coronary artery disease. Nevertheless, if you're at high risk, aim for a diet that ensures adequate intake of folic acid and vitamins B-6 and B-12.Breakfast cereals and pastas are fortified with these vitamins and are the highest sources. Check their labels. You can also get an adequate amount of these vitamins from ample servings of a variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes, and small amounts of poultry, fish and beef.