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Lunch Combo Lowers Risk of Heart Disease in Women

You could have the lowest rate of heart disease of your whole lunch bunch if you choose this for your midday meal: spinach salad with an olive-oil-based dressing.

In a study of healthy women, those who tended to eat lots of leafy greens topped with olive oil had as much as a 45% lower risk of heart disease compared with their salad-eschewing peers.

Supersize My Salad
Researchers examined the women's food choices over an 8-year period and compared their choices with their risk of developing heart disease and found that certain foods seemed to buoy heart health. The women who consumed at least 2 cups of leafy greens or 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil each day had the lowest rates of heart disease in women -- most likely thanks to the B vitamins, healthy fats, and antioxidant vitamins like C, E, and beta carotene in these nutrition superstars.

Heart Help
Nutrients in leafy greens and olive oil may help with more than just a reduced risk of heart disease in women; they could also lower signs of heart-harming inflammation, prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, and guard against the oxidative damage that contributes to heart disease. And, olive oil and leafy greens aren't the only way to a healthy heart. In the recent study, cabbage and raw tomatoes also were associated with lower rates of heart disease. And, in general, fresh vegetables can do wonders for your heart and overall health. So don't be conservative at the salad bar. The more vegetable variety, the better. (Here are five more foods you should feed your heart.)

Is your blood pressure inching up? Unravel the mysteries behind high blood pressure by reading this article.

Medically reviewed in April 2019.

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