The risk of a heart attack and heart disease is on the rise. A 2005 study conducted by the American Heart Association yielded the following:

- Mortality — 445,687 deaths in the United States in 2005 (about one of every five deaths).
- Incidence — 1,260,000 new and recurrent coronary attacks per year. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Atherosclerotic Risk in Communities [ARIC] Study and Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). About 37 percent of people who experience a coronary attack in a given year die from it.
- Prevalence — 16,800,000 victims of angina (chest pain due to coronary heart disease), heart attack and other forms of coronary heart disease are still living (8,700,000 males and 8,100,000 females).
- From 1995 to 2005 the death rate from coronary heart disease declined 34 percent, but the actual number of deaths declined only 19 percent.
- Estimates are that 9,800,000 people in the United States suffer from angina.
- An estimated 500,000 new cases of stable angina occur each year. (Framingham Heart Study, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- The estimated age-adjusted prevalence of angina in women age 20 and older was 4.1 percent for non-Hispanic white women, 6.7 percent for non-Hispanic black women and 4.5 percent for Mexican-American women. Rates for men in these three groups were 4.1, 4.4 and 3.5 percent, respectively.
- Among adults in the United States age 20 and older, the estimated age-adjusted prevalence of coronary heart disease for non-Hispanic whites is 8.8 percent for men and 9.0 percent for women; for non-Hispanic blacks, 9.6 percent for men and 7.8 percent for women; and for Mexican-Americans, 5.4 percent for men and 6.3 percent for women.


Since 2005, those numbers have risen. However, Health.com has compiled a very handy list of heart-healthy foods to include in your diet to help you avoid becoming part of these staggering statistics.

 

Oatmeal
Starting your day with a bowl of delicious coarse / steel-cut oatmeal will stock your body with a slew of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. The superfood can lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and keep arteries clear.

Salmon
With just two servings per week, the oily fish can reduce blood pressure and keep your clotting in check, reducing the risk of dying from a heart attack by one-third.

Opt for wild salmon over farm-raised, which sometimes is loaded with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.

Avocado
Adding avocado to your meal ups the healthy fats in your diet which can help lower LDL levels and raise the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) in your body. They also allow for the absorption of carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), essential for heart health.

Olive Oil
Anything loaded with monounsaturated fats will help lower LDL levels, effectively reducing your risk of heart disease, and olive oil is no exception.

Use extra-virgin or virgin varieties (less processed) and substitute them instead of butter for cooking.

Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are all full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats. And if you remember from a few posts back, almonds can also assist in brain function and weight loss. Win-win...win situation.

Berries
Berries are amazing for your body, not to mention a taste that can't be beat. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, snozzberries*, whichever berries you choose, are full anti-inflammatories which reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

* So, snozzberries aren't real. But if they were, we're sure they'd be on the list.

Legumes
Fiber, omega-3 and calcium are all found in your favorite legumes - lentils, chickpeas, black and kidney beans. Load up!

Spinach
Give a nod of thanks to the lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber in spinach helping your heart remain strong and in shape.

A Physicians' Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn't eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%.


Flaxseed
Adding flaxseed to a meal ups your intake of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Sprinkle a bit on your oatmeal or cereal for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.

 

Soy
Soy can be found in edamame, tempeh, organic silken tofu, and soy milk. it's low in saturated fat, is a fantastic source of lean protein, and may lower cholesterol.