Your heart toils away day in, day out without you even noticing, but there are plenty of simple ways you can give it a helping hand and keep it strong for years to come. Here are the best foods for boosting your heart health. The first one might be a little surprising…

Best foods for improving heart health

Cheese (yes, cheese!)

foods heart health

Hold the front page, we’ve got some fantastic news about your favourite indulgence… cheese! A new study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition saw 139 adults participate in a 12-week cheese eating study – yum!

Results showed that those who ate full-fat cheese each day saw no change in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels or blood sugar, and their blood pressure and waist circumference were also unaffected!

What’s more, their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol increased. So enjoying cheese in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet should see you reap the healthy heart benefits. Time to celebrate with a nice brie!

(Remember – everything in moderation!)

Yellow and orange vegetables

Green foods might usually get all the good press, but orange is where it’s at as far as heart health is concerned.

Studies suggest that those who eat four or more portions of fruit and vegetables rich in beta-carotene, such as orange or yellow peppers, carrots and squashes daily could reduce their risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack. So get stuck in to some delicious winter fruits and veggies today!

Related: 5 tasty pumpkin and squash recipes to tuck into this autumn

Garlic – with sprouts!

garlic heart health foods

Flinging open the fridge door full of anticipation for tonight’s meal, you notice a sad looking garlic bulb at the back of the shelf sprouting bright green shoots. But wait… don’t be hasty and throw it in the bin, this type of garlic has even more heart-healthy antioxidants than its fresher counterparts!

We know that eating fresh garlic or taking garlic supplements is a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and therefore heart disease risk. But, a team of scientists have now found that garlic sprouted for five days contains higher antioxidant levels than fresher, younger bulbs and may even be able to protect cells from damage.

Chop it up, discard the sprouted bits and add it to your favourite salad and soup dishes as you usually would for a heart-healthy kick!

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