While family history, genetics, obesity, and diabetes are the most common contributors to heart disease and high blood pressure, poor nutrition may also play a role. If your diet is lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and fatty acids, seek nutritional counseling. The dietician or nutritionist will evaluate your eating habits and nutritional status and can recommend dietary interventions to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Here are some nutrient-dense foods that may help you avoid a heart attack and hypertension:
High in omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oil in salmon helps lower your risk for blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks. It is thought that fish oil decreases systemic inflammation, which may be an important risk factor in the development of coronary artery disease. Fish oil from salmon also helps keep your blood platelets from getting too sticky, which may be another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. While your nutritional counselor may recommend that you incorporate more fresh salmon into your diet, he or she may advise you to talk to your physician before increasing your salmon intake. Eating large amounts of salmon while taking prescription anticoagulant medications may raise your risk for abnormal bleeding
Bananas are rich sources of potassium, an essential electrolyte that keeps your heart beating in a regular rhythm. Potassium also helps manage high blood pressure so that it doesn't get too high, raising your risk for a stroke. Eating a daily banana may lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, as might other potassium-rich foods such as almonds, oranges, dates, and dried apricots. If you take certain medications such as beta-blockers, your nutritionist may recommend that you avoid a high potassium diet. Beta blockers such as propranolol can increase serum potassium levels, and if you consume a high potassium diet while taking beta-blockers, you may be at risk for developing hyperkalemia, or high levels of potassium in your blood. Your nutritionist may also tell you that bananas can help lower your cholesterol levels, especially your low-density lipoproteins, which are also known as "bad cholesterol." When your low-density lipoproteins are too high, you may be at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
If you want to learn more about how certain foods can promote cardiovascular health, make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional counseling. During your counseling sessions, you'll also learn how consuming a healthy diet can reduce your risk for diabetes, kidney disease, and even inflammatory conditions of your joints.