10 Heart Healthy Foods To Love
A heart-healthy diet is not just for those with heart disease risk factors.
Healthy eating coupled with other healthy lifestyle choices can help you to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Give your heart some love. Enrich your diet with these healthy foods:
1. Salmon and other omega-3 rich fish such as sardines and mackerel.
The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3 rich fish at least twice per week. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent blood clots from forming, and inflammation from affecting artery walls. Additionally, omega-3 may reduce the risk for heart rhythm issues, and at higher doses, reduce triglyceride levels.
*Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid some types of fish due to potential mercury content. For further information on mercury content visit the Environmental Working Group website.
Grilled Salmon Vegetable Kebabs are an excellent option for an omega-3 rich meal. Walnuts and flaxseeds also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts are a fabulous source of fuel, vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats. Each nut varies in its vitamin profile and health benefits, so choosing a variety is the way to go!
- Almonds are great for calcium and vitamin E.
- Cashews contain iron and zinc.
- Chestnuts are a great source of B vitamins specifically B6.
- Hazelnuts are high in folate.
- Macadamia nuts are the highest in fiber and healthy fat.
- Pecans offer cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Pistachios are high in B6 and have been shown to help with menstrual issues.
- Walnuts are packed with antioxidants and a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
A typical serving is roughly 12-15 nuts, with raw nuts being a better choice than roasted as roasted nuts are typically cooked in oil and may have added salt.
3. Whole-grain cereals: oatmeal, barley, oat bran, and psyllium seeds
Oatmeal delivers soluble fiber, which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body before it gets into circulation. These delicious Breakfast Cookies are an excellent option that is also quick and portable. Additional options are Overnight Oats or CrockPot Oats.
A good, high-quality (70% cocoa or higher) dark chocolate contains flavonoids that may help with inflammation and clotting. Look for bars that are low in added sugar—and keep in mind that an ounce or two of dark chocolate is healthy, but a slice of chocolate cake is not!
Legumes are very rich in vegetable protein and soluble fiber, which naturally lowers cholesterol. Beans are the most commonly known legume but peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans are also legumes. White Bean and Kale Soup is a delicious and easy option for a weeknight meal.
6. Olive Oil
A landmark study has proven the health value of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular risk reduction. This style of eating includes healthy sources of fats from fish and plant-based oils such as olive oil. Use small amounts of olive oil when you saute or roast food and in your salad dressings.
7. Red Grapes
The grape polyphenols, and in particular resveratrol, furnishes the grape with a natural defense system against fungal infections. This polyphenol has antioxidant, anticlotting, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. This is the main reason why red wine is often touted as a health food. However, excessive drinking (according to research, more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women) cancels out any potential positive effects of alcohol consumption.
8. Green Tea
Several studies have shown the health benefits of drinking four or more cups of green tea daily. Be sure to drink your tea early in the day as it does contain caffeine.
9. Leafy Green Vegetables
Green veggies such as kale and spinach are vegetable powerhouses. They are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Kale also provides omega-3 fatty acids. Give a green smoothie a try and see how good you feel.
Avocados can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in your body. They are delicious as a mayo substitute, a sandwich spread, or on their own. They also are delicious chopped with tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos as a guacamole party dip.