Heart disease is the most fatal health problem in the U.S. February is celebrated as the Heart Health Month in America. A few simple lifestyle changes can improve heart health and lower the chances of repeat heart attacks or strokes. A healthy diet coupled with regular exercise and maintaining normal weight can reduce the risk to a great extent. Studies have shown that heart disease can be averted with the right regimen and can prove more effective than taking drugs. Here are the top 5 heart-healthy superfoods that can help prevent chronic heart disease:

1. Sardines

Sardines are the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Sardines are also an exceptional source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 encourages cardiovascular health since it is intricately joined to keeping levels of homocysteine stable. Homocysteine can harm artery walls, with high levels posing a risk for atherosclerosis. Sardines are not only full of omega-3 fatty acids, but due to their minute size they are extremely short in toxins, such as mercury.

According to the University of Maryland, Omega-3 fatty acids support proper brain function and memory. This heart-healthy superfood reduces inflammation which helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

2. Oatmeal

Research suggests oats have a cardioprotective mechanism. According to a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition, unique antioxidant compounds in oats help prevent free radicals from harming the LDL cholesterol, therefore minimizing risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The oat phenols significantly cover up the making of numerous types of molecules involved in the attachment of monocytes to the arterial wall, which is the first step in the development of atherosclerosis. Oats are also rich in fiber and potassium. Just avoid the flavored types, which can be filled with sugar. Instead, add sugar to your bowl with milk and a bit of honey, and top with nuts and fruits.

3. Nuts

Nuts are enriched with arginine, an amino acid required to make a molecule called nitric oxide, which relaxes contracted blood vessels and simplifies blood flow. They also contain vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, potassium and other healthful nutrients. The unsaturated fats in nuts help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts prevent the development of irregular heart rhythms. Omega-3 fatty acids can also prevent blood clots, making nuts one of the best heart-healthy superfoods.

4. Beans

Beans decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease because of their exceptional soluble fiber content. Reduced risk of myocardial infarct (MI, or heart attack) and coronary heart disease (CHD) have both been related with better eating of soluble fiber from food. Antioxidant minerals like manganese and zinc are also found in black beans.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection is significant for the cardiovascular system. When the blood vessels are exposed to chronic and excessive risk of oxidative stress damage by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules or inflammation, they are at sensitive risk for disease development. The prevention of excessive oxidative stress and chronic inflammation is a key to reduced risk of most cardiovascular diseases.

5. Blueberries

Research shows phytonutrients in blueberries are effective at safeguarding cardiovascular health. The versatile blueberry leaf may also possess anti-hypertensive properties. Berries are sweet and flavorful heart-healthy superfoods that offer various health benefits. A recent study in the Journal Circulation suggests that adding a few blueberries to frozen yogurt or adding strawberries in your morning smoothie can help reduce risk of heart disease. These bright fruits are high in antioxidants, which help fight chronic heart disease and cancer.

So, these are some of the best foods you can eat to boost your heart health.