16. Eat 15 cherries a day. Studies find the anthocyanins (plant chemicals) that give cherries their scarlet color also work to lower levels of uric acid in blood, a marker for heart attacks and stroke. Cherries out of season? Try sprinkling dried cherries on your salad or substituting a cup of cherry juice for orange juice in the morning.
17. Eat one cup of beans per day. Do that and you’ll be getting at least 300 micrograms of folate. A study from Tulane in New Orleans found people who consumed at least that much folate slashed their risk of stroke 20 percent and their risk of heart disease 13 percent more than those who got less than 136 mcg per day of the B vitamin. Not into beans? Try an orange (55 mcg), spinach (58 mcg in 1 cup raw spinach) romaine lettuce (62 mcg in 1 cup), or tomatoes (27 mcg in 1 cup). Since January 1998, wheat flour has been fortified with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, adding an estimated 100 mcg per day to the average diet.
18. Eat an orange every day. Or drink a glass of orange juice. Oranges, as you know, are a great source of vitamin C. Studies suggest diets high in this vitamin may reduce your risk of stroke, especially if you smoke. Tired of oranges? Substitute a bowlful of strawberries, a serving of brussels sprouts or broccoli, or a chopped red bell pepper, all excellent sources of vitamin C.
19. Skip the soda and have orange juice instead. The reason has to do with inflammation, the body’s response to damage or injury. Chronic inflammation, linked to heart disease, is significantly affected by what you eat. For instance, researchers at the State University of New York found that drinking glucose-sweetened water triggered an inflammatory response in volunteers, but drinking the same calories in a glass of orange juice didn’t. They theorize that the anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin C and various flavonoids in juice may provide some protection. Choose 100 percent juice instead of drinks that are mostly sweetened, flavored water. Other studies on orange juice find it can increase blood levels of heart-protective folate almost 45 percent and reduce levels of heart-damaging homocysteine by 11 percent.
20. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water every two hours. A study from Loma Linda University in California found that women who drank more than five glasses of water a day were half as likely to die from a heart attack as those who drank less than two. This is likely due to the fact that maintaining good hydration keeps blood flowing well; dehydration can cause sluggish blood flow and increase the risk of clots forming. Water works best when it comes to improving blood flow; soda is worthless.
21. Cook with ginger or turmeric twice a week. They have anti-inflammatory benefits, and inflammation is a major contributor to heart disease.
22. Go to the loo whenever you feel the urge. Research at Taiwan University found that a full bladder causes your heart to beat faster and puts added stress on coronary arteries, triggering them to contract, which could lead to a heart attack in people who are vulnerable.