A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease according to the American Heart Association, and we couldn’t agree more!
February is American Heart Month and we thought the perfect time to remind you of the delicious heart-healthy foods that you can easily incorporate into your meals all year long. Making some changes or additions to your diet can help to keep your heart in good shape and minimize your risk of heart disease. Consider adding these foods to your meals whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack!
Bursting with heart-healthy nutrients, colorful berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. Studies show adding berries to you diet can reduce multiple risk factors for heart disease including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Berries are delicious alone or added to everything from yogurt to a salad. Berries are best fresh, but frozen (without added sugar) are a fine substitute.
Dark Leafy Greens
Nutrient-dense leafy greens are highly prized for their abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that aid in the prevention of heart disease. Dark leafy greens are also high in dietary fiber that can lower cholesterol. Studies have found a link between an increased intake of leafy greens and a lower risk of heart disease.
Add any of these to your salad, omelet, sandwich, stir-fry, or smoothie.
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
Delicious and nutritious, nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals–all known to protect heart health. Studies show simply adding nuts to your diet can lower the harmful LDL cholesterol and raise the protective HDL cholesterol.
Nuts make an easy heart-healthy snack. A small handful is considered one serving.
- Macadamia nuts
Oats and Other Grains
Whole grains include all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran. Each provide dietary fiber which can help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal, particularly coarse or steel-cut oats, is considered the heart-healthy powerhouse of whole grains.
If you are not a fan of cooked oats try toasting them to top yogurt or salad, or add them to your smoothies!
- Oats (coarse or steel-cut are best)
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids shown to decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), lower triglyceride levels, and slow the growth of plaque in arteries. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of omega-3 rich foods like salmon each week, and suggests simply baking, grilling, steaming or broiling fatty fish. Some heart-healthy suggestions follow:
- Albacore tuna
- Sea bass
Looking for further insight on heart-healthy super foods? Click here for more information from the American Heart Association.