Heart attack: Six foods to help prevent the life-threatening condition

Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart is suddenly interrupted, and one of the leading causes of this is coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a condition in which the coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply blood to the heart) get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol. This can happen is a person eats a diet high in fat, so switching high-fat foods for healthier options is very important. Six foods have been found to keep the heart healthy – these are garlic, dark chocolate, walnuts, edamame, avocados and fatty fish.

Six foods have been found to keep the heart healthy – these are garlic, dark chocolate, walnuts, edamame, avocados and fatty fish


Garlic’s allicin content has been found to help improve heart health.

In one study, taking garlic extract in doses of 600 to 1,500mg daily for 24 weeks was shown to be as effective as a common prescription drug at reducing blood pressure.

Having high blood pressure is a risk factor of heart attack.

Garlic has also been shown to have a positive effect on cholesterol.

One review compiled the results of 39 studies and found garlic can reduce total cholesterol by an average of 17mg/dL and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 9mg/dL in those with high cholesterol. 

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate’s antioxidant and flavonoid content has been shown to boost heart health.

A large study showed participants who ate chocolate at least five times per week had a 57 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters. 

Another study found eating chocolate at least twice per week was linked to a 32 per cent lower risk of having calcified plaque in arteries.


Eating walnuts has also been shown to protect against heart disease.

One review showed eating walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 16 per cent, lower diastolic blood pressure by 2-3mmHg and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. 


Edamame has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

An analysis of 11 studies found soy isoflavones reduced total cholesterol by 3.9mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 5mg/dL. 

How do you know if someone’s having a heart attack? There are three tell-tale signs to look out for. 


Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are linked to reduced levels of cholesterol.

One study compared three cholesterol-lowering diets in 45 overweight and obese people, and one of the test groups consumed one avocado per day.

The group who ate avocado experienced reduced LDL cholesterol, as well as lower levels of small, dense LDL cholesterol, which is believe to raise the risk of heart disease. 

Fatty fish

Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studies extensively for their heart health benefits.

One study, involving 324 people, saw participants eat salmon three times a week for eight weeks, and after the study period they experienced a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure. 

Diastolic pressure is the lower number on a blood pressure reading which indicates the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

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