Eating certain foods as part of your daily balanced diet can improve the health of your heart. This, in turn, can lower your heart rate since your arteries will be clear of plaque and your heart will not have to work as hard to pump your blood. According to the University of Utah, eating the right foods can also help you lose weight, lower unhealthy cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure.
Eat omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats, which are found in fish oil, help to reduce inflammation in the body and increase blood circulation. This decreases your risk of heart disease and lowers your heart rate. Harvard Medical School recommends eating fish two or three times a week to protect your heart from abnormal heart rhythms. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines have the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids.
Cook with a cooking spray instead of butter. Switching to a nonstick vegetable oil spray from butter reduces the amount of saturated fat in your diet. This helps to keep your arteries flexible and unclogged, making it easier for your heart to work. Cooking sprays made with vegetable oils such as sunflower and canola oils are healthier choices when used in moderation.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," reports that milk products can improve heart health and lower your heart rate. Higher levels of fatty acids from dairy products in the blood are linked to a lower first heart attack risk. As dairy products are naturally high in saturated fat, choose low-fat and fat-free varieties of milk, cheese and yogurt.
Load up on vegetables. According to the University of Georgia, people who eat plenty of vegetables and little or no meat have a significantly lower rate of heart disease and lower resting heart rate. Vegetables are high in fiber, which reduces the amount of saturated fat the body absorbs. This lowers blood cholesterol levels and keeps the arteries healthy so the heart can work less.
Use egg whites instead of the entire egg. All the cholesterol in eggs is in the yolks. The egg whites are rich in protein but contain no fat or cholesterol. Egg whites are a healthy source of protein that will not contribute to heart disease like many other animal products.
Eat plenty of fiber. Dietary fiber improves heart health by controlling cholesterol levels and making you feel full so you eat less. Good sources of fiber include beans, whole grain bread and oatmeal. The website Heart.org recommends eating 25 grams of fiber every day.
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Biomarkers of Milk Fat and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction; Eva Warensjo et al.; May 2010
- Harvard School of Public Health: Foods That Lower Cholesterol
- Washington University at St. Louis: Lower Heart Rate
- Clark University: Nutrition and Exercise
- University of Georgia: Vegetarianism
- Bradley University: Heart to Heart
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.