Here are 6 nutritious beverages to boost heart health.
According to experts, pomegranates are uniquely healthy fruits for your heart. Their special antioxidants help prevent hardening and narrowing of the arteries that bring blood to your heart. Pomegranates also help decrease blood pressure, and are packed with polyphenols: micronutrients that lower inflammation and stimulate circulation. Bonus: Juices like pomegranate or those from other dark fruits such as Concord grapes can give you all the heart-health benefits of red wine without the alcohol.
Studies have shown that people who drink 3-5 cups of coffee per day have a significantly lower risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Every extra cup of coffee up to 6 per day reduced these conditions by 5-8%. Why? Experts believe coffee’s caffeine content, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties may be responsible. However, drinking too much coffee may make you jittery, so go slowly, and avoid creamers high in saturated fat, sugar and empty calories.
Tea is packed with phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and buildup in your arteries. Black and green tea also contain more moderate amounts of caffeine than coffee (about half the amount per cup), so it’s a great option for people who are sensitive to that. Bonus: You get the same health benefits from drinking it hot or cold, so it’s a versatile beverage you can enjoy year-round.
Tomato juice is rich in vitamins and minerals that help fight heart disease. It’s packed with vitamins C and E, iron, magnesium and potassium, which your body needs to keep blood flowing and to remove extra sodium from your body. Tomatoes are also an incredible source of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps strengthen your arteries, reduces cholesterol and reduces heart disease risk. If you buy packaged tomato juice, look for low-sodium and low-sugar options. Bonus: Some experts believe that the process of juicing tomatoes gives you all the advantages of eating tomatoes and releases even more beneficial compounds than you’d get from eating them raw.
Vegetable juice mixes are a great option for people who know they need to eat vegetables but don’t love the taste. Try mixing heart-healthy green veggies with fruits and natural sweeteners like honey. To start, pick a juice that’s heavy on apples, oranges or citrus and includes spinach or kale, both of which are heart-healthy superfoods thanks to their high levels of calcium, iron and inflammation-reducing flavonoids. If you do add juice to your routine, make sure to account for the extra calories elsewhere in your diet.
Smoothies can be very heart-healthy — if they’re made with the right ingredients. If you like things on the sweeter side, start with dark-skinned fruits such as blueberry or pomegranate. If you like things more tart, try green lemonade. For maximum impact, consider a mix of superfoods such as spinach and chia seeds, which are full of heart-protecting omega-3s. As with juice, as long as the smoothies are made with ingredients like mango or banana, they’re a palatable way to work health food into almost any diet.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.