For years, we’ve been led to believe that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease and early death. Statin drugs to lower LDL cholesterol are increasingly being prescribed and more than 13 million Americans, including most men over the age of 60 are taking them!

Yet fascinating research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism in April this year shows that, as you age, having high cholesterol is good for us! The research, which was conducted in Japan, showed that people with the highest cholesterol levels were less likely to suffer from heart disease and states that “mortality actually goes down with higher total or low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, as reported by most Japanese epidemiological studies of the general population.”

Keep your heart healthy with these 7 deliciously healthy foods to nourish and support your heart:

1. Avocado

Avocados are a wonderful fruit containing a range of vital nutrients needed for a healthy body including being full of healthy fats and fiber for a healthy heart!

2. Nuts

recent study shows eating at least 10g of nuts each day can reduce your risk of early death from all major causes including cancer, diabetes, brain, lung and heart diseases.

3. Banana

The potassium in bananas helps maintain normal heart function and the balance of sodium and water in the body. Potassium helps the kidneys excrete excess sodium, thereby contributing to healthy blood pressure!

4. Leafy Greens

Researchers believe that one key reason leafy greens are so good for your heart is because of their dietary nitrate content. This study, published in The Journal of Physiology, outlines that nitrate in the diet protects the heart and improves overall blood flow, showing leafy greens are an effective way to help the heart pump with more efficiency.

5. Cacao/Dark Chocolate

Yes, it’s true! The antioxidant rich cacao or high quality cocoa found in dark chocolate offer amazing health benefits for your heart! The flavonoid content is said to help maintain or restore vascular nitric oxide production and offer free radical fighting benefits to protect your heart.

6. Tomatoes

Research suggests that the combination of nutrients in tomatoes may help prevent cardiovascular disease by helping to protect lipoproteins and vascular cells from oxidation. Other cardio protective functions provided by the nutrients in tomatoes may include the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, platelet aggregation, and blood pressure.

7. Berries

Berries are a good source of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber. Berries support a healthy heart in a variety of ways including upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, decreased activities of carbohydrate digestive enzymes, decreased oxidative stress, and inhibition of inflammatory gene expression and foam cell formation, all of which if not kept under control, can lead to heart disease and poor heart health.

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables of all kinds does wonders for your health and reduce your risk of a range of chronic diseases including heart attacks and stroke, so be sure to combine a mix of all colors, shapes and sizes regularly, and enjoy these 7 on a regular basis!

What do you do to keep your heart healthy?