Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, a high triglyceride level, and high blood pressure all contribute to the risk of heart attacks. One of the signs of a possible heart attack is chest pain.
By incorporating several foods into your diet, you can lower blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and reduce your triglycerides. As a result, you reduce your risk for chest pain and heart attacks.
Oranges contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which acts like a sponge in your body by soaking up the cholesterol in your food and inhibiting its absorption into your bloodstream.
Additionally, cirrus pectin helps neutralize galectin-3, a protein that causes heart tissue to scar, which can lead to congestive heart failure. Oranges also contain potassium, which counterbalances salt, helping blood pressure stay under control.
Almonds decrease the absorption of cholesterol from your diet into your bloodstream. In addition, the unsaturated oils in almonds encourage your liver to make less LDL and more HDL cholesterol.
Broiled, baked, or grilled salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which improve the metabolic markers for cardiovascular disease. Salmon also contains a lot of selenium, which is an antioxidant that research has shown to increase heart protection.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains flavanoids that relax arteries and increase blood flow, reducing blood pressure. Look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa and doesn’t have saturated fats from additives like palm oil.
When LDL cholesterol oxidizes, it can get stuck in arterial walls, initiating the formation of plaque. Research has shown that pomegranate juice not only blocks the progression of plaque formation, it can actually reverse some plaque buildup. Research has also shown that pomegranates activate an enzyme that destroys oxidized plaque.
Cold-water fish contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, and sardines have some of the highest levels. The omega-3 fatty acids sardines contain raise HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, decrease inflammation, and reduce potentially fatal heart arrhythmias.
You can get omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, such as flaxseed, but research indicates that the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are more powerful at protecting your heart.
What to Do if You Have Chest Pain
There are several signs that you may be experiencing a heart attack. Most heart attacks present with some chest discomfort in the middle of the chest. Your discomfort may last for more than a few minutes or go away and come back. Your chest discomfort may feel like squeezing, pain, fullness, or uncomfortable pressure. You may also experience discomfort or pain in your arms, neck, back, stomach, or jaw if you are having a heart attack. Other possible signs of a heart attack include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
If you experience chest pain or discomfort, it’s important to have it checked out right away. Even if you aren’t sure you’re having a heart attack, it’s important to go to your nearest urgent care clinic or emergency room to get examined. Don’t wait. Each minute matters; going to your local emergency room right away can save your life.
Though heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, lowering your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride level and raising your HDL cholesterol can help you prevent heart attacks. Though eating a heart-healthy diet will help you protect your heart, there is no guarantee that you won’t have a heart attack. If you experience any signs of a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately; it could save your life.