Foods to Eat for a Healthy Heart
February is known for three things; cold weather, having the fewest days and Valentine’s Day. As we are about to be smothered in ads for chocolates, treats and candy hearts, let’s take a moment to look at some ways to keep our physical heart healthy!
Good news for lovers of this fruit. The avocado will be remembered for more than just taking over social media and being the iconic food of the millennial generation, it is incredibly healthy for our heart!
Avocados contain a strong amount of monounsaturated fats and potassium. Consuming these is associated with lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease, a decrease in blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke.
Avocado is an easy addition to a salad, sandwich, or prepared as a dip as guacamole.
Popeye was not the biggest endorser of spinach without reason. It fueled his legendary muscles and strength! Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Studies conducted of people increasing their intake of leafy greens such a dramatic reduction in their risk of heart disease and coronary heart disease. Leafy greens also demonstrated to protect the arteries and reduce blood pressure.
If salads are not your thing try mixing in some greens with fresh fruits and low-fat greek yogurt to make a heart healthy smoothie!
Dried beans and lentils come in a wide variety of forms. If there are not a million options to choose from, than it is pretty close! So even if you are not a huge legume person, hopefully there are a few out there for you!
Legumes such as chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans are one of the greatest sources of soluble fiber and vitamin B. Try taking a stab at a healthy vegetarian chili. Just be sure that if you are buying canned beans to look for reduced or no sodium options.
If your image of oatmeal is Oliver Twist being scooped a bowl of mush then you are truly missing out! Oatmeal is rich in fibers that reduce cholesterol and support a healthy functioning heart.
Try toasting some oatmeal and putting it over the top of some cooked apples with cinnamon and low-fat greek yogurt. It will not only taste like a refreshing apple crisp dessert, but it will be one of the healthiest snacks for your cardiovascular health.
Salmon, tuna and even sardines are loaded with omega 3-fatty acids. Initially that term fatty may seem counterintuitive to being a health food, however, it is incredibly effective at reducing blood pressure, reducing risk of heart disease and improving artery function.
Consuming fish such as salmon or tuna three times a week is also linked to lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
If eating fish is not an appealing option you can also consider taking omega 3-fatty acid and fish oil pills. These are great supplement for improving heart health.
Nuts offer several benefits to our overall health, but walnuts lead the charge in specifically promoting the heart. Walnuts are dense in magnesium and copper, which can protect against heart disease and lower cholesterol.
Admittedly, walnuts are bit difficult to eat on their own. It’s rare to see someone sit down with a bag walnuts! However, it is one of the easiest foods to add on top of a plate or pair with something else. Walnuts go great on salads, with yogurt, and fruit.
Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease. Berries are another great food for lowering cholesterol.
One of the great things about berries is how versatile they can be when incorporating them into a diet. They are a great stand alone snack, they can be used as a topping, and they are one of the most flavorful ingredients in making healthy smoothies.
Finally we arrived at the topical item everyone wants to see! Now, this is not a pass to consume chocolate in every form under the guise it is heart healthy. Chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa and above is a great source of antioxidants.
Dark chocolate can be an acquired taste when compared to the sweet and sugary milk chocolate we are accustomed to. However, with a little bit of time and creativity, and the knowledge that dark chocolate can improve the quality of your heart, we think you’ll make the transition!