The Unexpected Food Pairing That Can Prevent Heart Attack Risk

You probably know the benefits of a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fat sources can support your muscles, boost immunity, aid in digestion, and keep your skin and eyes healthy. A healthy diet also can lower your risk of heart disease — in turn, helping to prevent a heart attack (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)).

A heart attack occurs when an artery to your heart becomes blocked and can't get the oxygen it needs. Although people can survive a heart attack, significant damage to the heart can occur if they don't get to a hospital quickly enough. Heart attacks typically are caused by a buildup of plaque in the walls of your arteries. Over time, these plaques can narrow your arteries and restrict the blood flow to your heart. If plaques break off, they can form blood clots and block the flow altogether, causing a heart attack (via the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). You can improve your heart's function by pairing certain foods together that are rich in certain compounds. In particular, pairing apples with green tea gives you the one-two punch in reducing your risk of a heart attack.

Heart-protective benefits of apples

You've heard an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Eating two apples can be good for your heart, according to a 2020 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study found that people with high cholesterol reduced their cholesterol and improved their vascular function after eating two apples a day for eight weeks.

Apples have quercetin, which is also found in onions, red wine, and olive oil. A 2021 review in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine said that quercetin interferes with the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in your arteries that can eventually restrict blood flow. It can protect the heart against myocardial ischemia, which reduces blood flow to the heart and prevents the heart from getting enough oxygen.

Quercetin can protect your heart against inflammation, particularly if you've had coronary artery bypass surgery. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine gave heart surgery patients quercetin supplements before and after surgery. They found that this helped protect against inflammation and post-surgical complications.

Green tea prevents blood clots

Green tea has catechins, which are also found in blackberries, dark chocolate, and fava beans. Yes, apples have them, too. The catechins in green tea can help protect your heart in many ways, according to a 2008 article in Current Medicinal Chemistry. Catechins rummage through your body for free radicals and block enzymes that promote oxidative stress. They also prevent the inflammation in your blood vessels that could clog your arteries. Catechins in green tea also prevent blood platelets from sticking together, which can reduce the formation of blood clots. A 2001 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet high in catechins in tea, apples, and chocolate can lower your risk of death from a heart attack.

Platelets factor into coronary artery disease because they can produce substances that lead to blood clots — which then can cause heart attacks, according to a 2022 review in the Bulletin of Environment, Pharmacology, and Life Sciences. The flavonoids, particularly the catechins in green tea, can inhibit platelets by preventing calcium levels from rising. Different flavonoids work together to inhibit these platelets. By drinking green tea and eating an apple (or two), your healthy cardiovascular system will help you live a longer, healthy life.