Quitting smoking, regular exercise and a healthy diet all contribute to a heart-friendly lifestyle which could help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease. As well as eating more vegetables, fruits and oily fish, here are some surprising foods to include in your diet to keep your heart ticking along for decades to come.
Nourishing and packed with filling fibre, there’s nothing like a comforting bowl of porridge oats to set you up for the rest of the day. High in protein, it contains iron and vitamin B1 and could help to try and lower cholesterol. Studies suggest that eating oats reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol which can cause fatty substances to clog up the arteries which can eventually lead to heart disease.
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An essential in many kitchen cupboards, this aromatic spice has been valued as an herbal remedy for thousands of years. Now a recent scientific study seems to show that cinnamon could help reduce certain factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. During the study, 60 people with type 2 diabetes took between 1 to 6g of cinnamon each day. The results suggest that adding cinnamon to your diet could reduce cholesterol levels which can increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
Whilst munching on bars of chocolate may not be good for your health or your waistline due to added fat and sugar, enjoying a few squares of dark chocolate in moderation may lower your risk of heart disease. With its naturally bitter taste, dark chocolate often contains less milk and sugar than other types of chocolate. Dark chocolate is also rich in essential nutrients like iron, magnesium and potassium. In one scientific study carried out on 470 elderly men over fifteen years, it was found that cocoa may reduce the risk of death by heart problems by a massive 50%. In another study, people that ate chocolate five times or more a week had a lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Packed with vitamin K, blueberries also contain Vitamin C, fibre, manganese and other antioxidants. Studies have shown that eating blueberries regularly can reduce your risk of a heart attack. 
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Tasty, filling and full of fibre, nuts are a fantastic source of nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Evidence suggests that a diet full of nuts could be linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
You may not be aware but your favourite cinema snack is also a wholegrain. Take away all the added sugar and salt and you have a low calorie food that is packed with zinc and fibre. Plus, including wholegrains in your diet could keep heart disease at bay. Research showed that eating three helpings of wholegrains a day lowered blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. To avoid hidden sugar and salt in shop-bought popcorn, pop your own home flavoured with spices, herbs or a drizzle of peanut butter or dark chocolate.
A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can.
Take a look at our guide to taking care of your heart.