February is National American Heart Month, 28 days of promoting heart disease awareness, knowing the risk factors associated with the disease, and taking steps to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Every day, the heart is a hard-working organ that never stops beating. The average heart beats 72 times a minute or 103,680 times a day. The size of a fist, your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day – your heart deserves some pampering. One way to show it some love is to feed it heart-healthy foods.
Men, however, should take note: Heart disease tends to develop in men 10 years earlier than women. Men also have distinct warning signs such as erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, and chronic stress, forewarning of potential pending heart problems setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke. Knowing these special heart risks, men can improve health habits taking them on a path to better preventative care.
One big step all men can take to improve heart health is to “eat red,” as in adding heart-healthy nutritious red foods onto their plates. To celebrate eating red for good heart health, here are eight red foods to start eating today:
Tomatoes are always a top pick in a well-rounded diet. Available year-round, these vine-ripened fruits are excellent sources of the antioxidants vitamins C and A and a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and thiamin. A vital phytonutrient called lycopene gives tomatoes their eye-catching red hue. Research has shown lycopene helps reduce the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. To intensify the potency of lycopene, use cooked, canned tomato products such as tomato sauce and tomato paste in recipes.
For a vitamin C boost, look no further than fresh or frozen strawberries. Whether eaten with a meal or as a snack, eight whole strawberries provide more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries may also reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol, the kind that clogs up arteries, by reducing reduce inflammation and reducing heart disease. Men, with low testosterone, should consider eating more berries like strawberries to reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels as “low T” can be considered a cardiovascular risk factor.
Yes, potatoes can be part of a heart-healthy diet, and red-skinned potatoes will pair perfectly with any entrée. These young, immature tubers are jam-packed with fiber, vitamins, and plenty of minerals. Red-skinned potatoes are also cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and an excellent source of vitamin C – all heart-healthy attributes. Whether boiled, baked, or mashed, they always taste great.
What a fantastic food for heart health. Doesn’t matter if you prefer sweet or spicy red peppers – both have a variety of powerful antioxidants shown to fight heart disease.
Red bell peppers, unlike green peppers, are chock full of the phytochemical lycopene and a good source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. The powerful antioxidants vitamins A and C are also found abundantly in this ruby red veggie. In addition, Chile peppers like red habanero and Serrano contain phytochemical capsaicin, which reduces inflammation and relieves arthritis and headaches.
This delicate fruit contains the plant compound anthocyanins, which help reduce inflammation that can lead to heart disease. Quercetin is another substance found in raspberries that may slow down cancer growth. Raspberries can be eaten fresh, frozen, or blended into a smoothie.
There’s a reason why the word “water” prefaces the word “melon” – this fruit boasts a 92 percent water content making it ideal for keeping hydrating on a hot summer day. This summertime favorite packs a boatload of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene, all important compounds for lowering the risk of heart disease.
Tart cherries’ bright red color comes courtesy of the antioxidant anthocyanin. This powerful substance has unique health-promoting properties, from anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits to reducing post-exercise muscle and joint pain. Tart cherries are also sweet for blood vessel health. A compound called nitric oxide, is found abundantly in Montmorency cherries and cherry juice made using Montmorency cherries. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, signaling blood vessels to relax and expand for better blood flow. This means stronger erections for men since the penis relies on unobstructed blood vessels to perform sexually.
Well-known for their heart health capabilities, red grapes are rich in antioxidants and fiber, helping to reduce heart muscle damage related to a high-sodium diet. Red grapes also have been shown to reduce blood triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol and to improve blood vessel function. Always a perfect snack, offer some love to your heart by stocking up on red grapes today.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.