Heart Healthy Foods
When we think about nutrition and heart health, we often default to the list of foods we shouldn’t be eating which in turn provokes a feeling of deprivation. It’s hard to stick to a lifestyle goal if you constantly feel deprived. Instead, start celebrating the bounty of foods that support your heart’s health. Here are eight foods you can feel good about eating every single day.
Salmon is rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to support heart health and general disease prevention. Including salmon or other fatty fish like sardines and anchovies can help raised the good HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL cholesterol. Salmon is as simple to prepare as seasoning a filet with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and roast it at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Nuts are rich in fiber, anti-inflammatory fats, protein, and more. They contain vitamin E, which boasts a slew of health benefits like helping to lower bad cholesterol. Nuts play a role in keeping your endothelial cells healthy – the cells lining are artery walls. They are also a good source of magnesium. This aids in muscle relaxation and can be naturally calming. Add nuts to your oatmeal, put them on a salad, or enjoy them as a healthy snack.
Berries contain anthrocyanins and may help regulate blood pressure. A study of women aged 25 through 42 showed that those people who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. Eating blueberries has also been linked to the raising of HDL cholesterol and a lowering of triglycerides. Blueberry intake is also associated with decreased oxidative cell damage which has been linked to healthy arteries. Add berries to smoothies, cereal, and even to savory grain dishes.
Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids. This helps with lowering blood pressure, successful blood clotting, and overall inflammation. Look for dark chocolate with at least 75% cocoa as higher percentages of cocoa is more nutrient dense and tends to be lower in sugar. The recommended intake is up to one ounce per day so enjoy dark chocolate in moderation.
Potatoes are often avoided due to dietary myths around staying away from white foods, but this nutrient dense vegetable deserves a place on your plate. Potatoes are rich in potassium which helps with blood pressure regulation. They are also high in fiber. Potatoes are an inexpensive healthy vegetable. Avoid deep fried potatoes or loading them up with cheese and instead experiment with healthier cooking methods like grilling, baking, or roasting.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidiant that has been shown to help with cholesterol reduction and decreasing the risk of heart attack. They are also a great source of potassium. In the winter months, choose grape of cherry tomatoes as they tend to be more flavorful than their larger counterparts. You can eat them raw or enjoy them in soups, stews, sauces, and more.
Beans are an inexpensive plant based protein. Beans and lentils are trending in 2015 for good reason! Consumption of beans and legumes are associated with a lower risk of heart disease as well as improved glycemic control. They are also a good source of folate and magnesium which helps lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Rich in fiber and protein, beans and legumes are satisfying. If you buy canned, make sure to rinse and drain them. This simple act can decrease the sodium content by over 50%.
Olive oil, a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet, has long been associated with heart health. Consuming olive oil in the place of more saturated fats can decrease your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Source: Government Employees Hospital Association Health eReport - March 2015 Health e-Report