A person's heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the span of an average lifetime. We seem to take that for granted. Half of Americans suffer some form of heart disease, and more than 840,000 people died last year from heat-related illnesses (including strokes), which is more than cancer and COVID-19 combined.

Not to get grim about it, but there are things we can do to reverse this trend, and most cases of heart disease in the US is at least partly brought on by lifestyle choices like being sedentary and smoking, and other daily risk factors such as eating a mostly meat-based diet, according to a recent study. Prioritizing getting daily vigorous exercise and eating a whole food plant-based diet is the best way to boost your heart health, naturally.

There is a simple way to reduce the chances of heart disease, regardless of your age, right now, which is to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These 7 foods are among the best to boost heart health without the need for medication, In fact, a new study found that all it takes to move the needle on heart health and diabetes is to eat one more serving of fruits and vegetables a day.

Foods containing high levels of saturated fats like meat, processed foods, and pastries may be a leading cause of the risk of heart disease. Choosing a plant-based diet significantly reverses heart failure symptoms because whole foods with fiber naturally lower your cholesterol and help maintain healthy blood circulation.

When you are seeking heart-healthy foods, turn to those that are closest to what you could grow in the earth, like fruits and vegetables and minimally processed foods (potatoes not chips).

Everyone can benefit from eating this way, not just people with heart disease. If you don't know where to start here are 7 ways to eat less meat and lower your risk of heart disease by cutting back on saturated fat. And check out The Beet's new healthy plant-based recipes every day that you can enjoy too add more plants to your plate, and years to your longevity.

Here Are The Best 7 Plant-Based Foods to Boost Your Heart Health

1. Beets

If you've ever heard someone say, "a beet helps the heartbeat," they're right. In fact, these small vibrantly-colored root vegetables contain a high concentration of nitrates. Nitrates are a natural chemical found in soil, air, water, and some foods that can help your body to reduce blood pressure, which can lead to less risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. You can't beat eating beets! Mix them into your smoothie or chop them into fine pieces and add them to your salad.

2. Berries

These are berry good for your heart! "Eating a cup of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease," according to a study by the National Library of Medicine. To be specific, eating 150 grams (about 5 ounces) of blueberries a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 percent.

The study examined the effect of six months of blueberry intake on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic function in patients with metabolic syndrome. The research team concluded that "blueberries and other berries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease– particularly among at-risk groups." Add berries to your smoothies, yogurt parfaits, salads, or simply enjoy them on their own.

3. Avocados

Avocados have a bad reputation because most people think eating fat will make you fat, but the opposite is actually true in the case of plant-based fat like avocado. The 5 grams of fat in an avocado can help you lose weight and boost heart health because it trains your body to burn fat as fuel. The two fats in avocados are mono and polyunsaturated fats that take place of saturated or trans fats when eaten in moderation. This can help reduce bad cholesterol in the body and decrease your risk of heart disease. Because avocados are full of "good fat" they can help your body absorb nutrients without raising LDL levels (so-called bad cholesterol) in the body. LDL creates plaque, blockages and eventually heard disease. If you're fighting high cholesterol, try eating avocados regularly, or adding them to your smoothies and salads.

4. Tomatoes

When people say, "A Tomato a Day Keeps the Heart Doctor Away," they're actually talking about Lycopene. This chemical that gives tomatoes their bright red color, and can be found in watermelon and grapefruit, is a powerhouse antioxidant that helps to keep cells from becoming damaged. Lycopene may work to lower LDL. Lycopene in the diet also appears to prevent clotting, which can limit the risk of stroke according to health studies.

5. Garlic

Aside from garlic's powerful aftertaste, the food has powerful health benefits. Garlic, when chopped releases allicin which can help lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol that can lead to heart disease. People with high cholesterol should consider taking garlic supplements because they appear to reduce LDL by about 10-15 percent according to a health study by The National Library of Medicine.

6. Edamame

Edamame is neither a fruit nor vegetable, but a powerhouse legume that delivers major benefits when it comes to boosting heart health. Edamame is rich in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin K which together work to lower LDL and improve your blood lipids. "Eating 47 grams of soy protein per day can lower total cholesterol levels by 9.3 percent and LDL by 12.9 percent, according to a health study by The National Library of Medicine. In addition, the vitamin K in edamame helps regulate your blood vessels and improves circulation in the body.

7. Oranges

Oranges are the perfect refreshing fruit to enjoy all year round and they appear to protect your heart against aging. Oranges contain flavonoids which is a class of pigments that help give it structure. Specifically, the chemical hesperidin found in citrus may support heart health according to several studies. In one recent study, hesperidin helped improve blood pressure, and lower cardiovascular risk. Results show that drinking orange juice daily for just four weeks has a "blood-thinning effect and may reduce blood pressure" for overweight men.

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