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According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Roughly 25% of the deaths each year in the U.S. is contributed to heart disease, with more than half of those deaths being men. What makes these statistics even worse is that heart disease is not only completely preventable, but can be reversible as well. We’ve compiled a list of 15 heart – healthy foods that can assist in lowering your risk for heart disease in the future.

15. Oranges

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If you’re looking for a pharmacy’s worth of remedies within one fruit, the orange is the perfect place to start. Thanks to its high levels of pectin, this type of soluble fiber works like a “sponge” to suck up cholesterol in foods and block its absorption. The potassium in oranges also help counterbalance sodium intake and assist with keeping your blood pressure in check. Recently, new studies have found that oranges have the ability to neutralize proteins that lead to heart scar tissue and eventually congestive heart failure.

14. Kale

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Remember when your mom told you to eat your leafy greens? Well, she told you so for a good reason. Research has found that kale is one of the perfect foods to prevent heart disease and keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Thanks to a heaping amount of heart-boosting antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, kale is the perfect food and should be a permanent food item in your household.

13. Garlic

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Garlic is an excellent food to help reduce plaque in your arteries and help reduce your blood pressure. According to research, garlic helps reduce an enzyme known as angiotensin, which constricts blood vessels. Tests have also found that people who suffer from plaque build up in their arteries saw the build up reduced by up to 50% when they took garlic extract in pill form daily.

12. Red Wine

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Did you know that red wine helps boost your HDL levels, which is your good cholesterol? It also reduces clotting by keeping your blood vessels flexible. Some studies have found that a glass of red wine is more effective than aspirin and can help reduce your chance of a heart attack. Bottoms up!

11. Dark Chocolate

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A study from Harvard University on the Kuna Indians off the coast of Panama discovered that the indigenous people had very low blood pressure and no signs of hypertension. At first, it was believed that the people had a rare genetic trait, but it was soon discovered that they drank large amounts of raw cocoa. Thanks to rich compounds known as flavanols, dark chocolate (which is known to have higher levels of cocoa) can help increase blood vessel flexibility, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.

10. Sardines

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While many of you might stick your nose up at sardines, they actually can help with heart health. According to studies, the omega-3 fatty acids in sardines can help lower triglyceride levels in the body, raise good cholesterol, and reduce inflammation in the body. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a reduction in heart disease among women who consumed cold-water fish.

9. Lentils

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International studies found that people who eat a diet high in legumes (specifically, lentils) have a reduced risk of heart disease. This is due to the fact that lentils help with reducing high blood pressure, which is one of the early warning signs of heart disease. Lentils are also high in protein, magnesium, and potassium, which can help reduce the risk for plaque in the blood vessels.

8. Almonds

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Almonds are actually a very healthy (and tasty) way to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and prevent absorption of LDL thanks to a high amount of plant sterols. According to studies at the University of Toronto, people who eat a diet that consists of almonds can lower their risk for heart disease by up to 28%.

7. Pomegranates

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Pomegranates have a unique blend of antioxidants that help prevent the oxidation of plaque in the walls of the arteries. In fact, a study showed that atherosclerosis patients were actually able to reduce the plaque that had begun to accumulate within their arterial walls by drinking 8 oz. of pomegranate juice daily.

6. Blueberries

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Blueberries are considered a “superfood” for a reason. Not only do these delicious morsels help fight aging with a rich dose of antioxidants, but they can also reduce the buildup of cholesterol within the walls of your arteries. Blueberries have also been found to eliminate free radicals that can cause cancer, as well as heart disease.

5. Beets

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Research has found that beets are an excellent source of folate and betaine, both which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and help lower levels of homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is known to increase the risk of heart disease by causing inflammation that can damage the heart muscle.

4. Salmon

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Thanks to being an oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, research has discovered that salmon can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering the levels of triglycerides in the body. Salmon has also been found to prevent blood clots and expand constricted blood vessels.

3. Turmeric

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Turmeric has been gaining traction in the nutrition and fitness industries due to its many health benefits, especially when it comes to heart health. An active compound known as curcumin can be found in high levels inside turmeric and can help block biochemical reactions that are involved in cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart). It can also reduce any inflammation in the blood vessels contributing to high blood pressure.

2. Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds may be tiny but they certainly are mighty when it comes to nutrition and being beneficial to your heart health. Thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and omega-3s, chia seeds provide a natural method to lower your cholesterol and improve heart function. Some people like adding them to smoothiesothers make a chia “pudding” to enjoy with fruit for breakfast. Regardless of how you enjoy them, the lasting benefits are where it’s at.

1. Apples

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They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and that statement couldn’t be truer. Research has found that apples are filled with nutritious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can assist with lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Better yet, there are so many varieties of apples, each with their own nutritional properties, that you won’t get bored when it comes to flavor and reaping the health rewards! Up next: 10 Vegetables You Mistakenly Think Are Good for You

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