Heart disease is an umbrella term that encompasses several types of heart disease, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and atherosclerosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.”
While there are non-modifiable genetic factors that contribute to your heart health, many lifestyle factors play an important role in your well-being. Exercise, weight, smoking, and what you eat and drink can influence your health.
When you think about how good nutrition can help your heart, you can atomically think of healthy foods, like salmon and avocado, and although they contain heart-healthy fats, the drinks that you drink can also play a role. Here are the best drinks to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with potassium, an electrolyte that can reduce pressure on the walls of your blood vessels, supporting overall heart and vessel health. Plus, potassium offsets the negative effects sodium can have on your blood pressure, helping to lower your risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Many fruits contain potassium, but the most concentrated are bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew and grapefruit.
Prepare a tropical smoothie at home with banana, pineapple and citrus slices, a handful of spinach or avocado or beets for an extra potassium boost. Be sure to limit the addition of refined sugar to your smoothie, such as juice, as this form of sugar can negatively impact your heart health.
It might not be the most exciting drink on this list, but plain water can do wonders for your heart health. When you’re well hydrated, your heart can pump blood around your body more efficiently, which can reduce the strain on your cardiovascular system. While all liquids can contribute to your overall hydration, you should aim for the majority of your total fluid intake to come from plain water.
Other beverages that can help keep you hydrated are more likely to contain added sugar, such as sodas, juices, and sweetened tea, which we know can harm heart health. Other common beverages, such as coffee and energy drinks, contain caffeine which can exacerbate heart problems in some and are therefore not the best source of hydration.
Each of our fluid needs varies depending on several factors, such as activity and natural sweat rate; however, a good rule of thumb is that women should consume at least 80 fluid ounces per day and men should achieve 110 ounces per day, with at least half coming from plain water.
A nice, soothing cup of tea in the evening is a ritual for many, and for good reason. Herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender, are considered a holistic way to improve sleep quality. You might be wondering what this has to do with your heart health. Insufficient sleep appears to be a risk factor for heart disease, as it has the potential to increase the incidence of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, all of which can increase your risk of heart disease. Current data suggests that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and good sleep hygiene is important to achieve that range.
A cup of caffeine-free herbal tea before bed, limiting screen time at night, and a comfortable sleeping environment are all factors that will influence the length and quality of your sleep. Along with the sleepy properties that tea can induce, this drink also contains antioxidants that support your overall health.
You can combine fiber with roughage, such as vegetables and whole grains, but you can also boost your fiber intake through your beverages! The smoothie above is a great start to boosting your fiber intake, and a single smoothie containing a few cups of fruits and vegetables can provide over 5 grams of fiber in just one drink! However, if you’re struggling to get enough fiber elsewhere in your diet, extra fiber added to a glass of water may be a good idea.
Most powdered fiber supplements contain soluble fiber, the form best suited for heart health. Although fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain small amounts of this type of fiber, a daily fiber supplement will help you get the recommended 6 to 8 grams of soluble fiber each day for adults. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream, potentially lowering the amount of unhealthy LDL cholesterol you have in your body and lowering your risk of atherosclerosis.
Whether you make your own fresh at home, buy it bottled from a store, or mix a powdered green supplement in water, every form of green juice can benefit your heart health. Green juice is loaded with many nutrients, like potassium, antioxidants, and even anti-inflammatory factors. This combination of nutrients can benefit your overall health, including your heart, and is a simple addition to your day.
In fact, one study looked at the benefits of drinking kale juice every day and found that the drink could positively influence blood markers and even reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in men with hyperlipidemia. When considering adding green juice to your diet, it’s important to again avoid options with added sugar and instead choose those made strictly from fruits and vegetables, or powdered supplements that do not list “sugar” as an ingredient.
Your heart is your body’s most important muscle, and keeping it healthy is key with your beverage choices. In addition to using these beverages listed to reduce your risk of heart disease, also watch your alcohol intake, limit added sugar in your beverages, and consult your doctor about appropriate caffeine intake.