Having a healthy diet with the right amount of calories is a great way to take care of your heart. The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. It’s good advice. Before writing your next grocery list, take a look at some of our favorite foods for heart health.
Apples contain a phytochemical called quercetin, which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and can also help prevent blood clots. Apples contain vitamins and fiber, are available in many delicious varieties and are portable. Eat an apple with a handful of nuts or almonds as a healthy snack or add apple slices to your salads.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like olive oil. In addition, they are rich in vitamins and phytochemicals that protect your heart (and other parts of the body) as antioxidants.
3. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as in calories. The consumption of green leafy vegetables is also associated with better memory retention as you get older. Use fresh spinach leaves as a green salad or serve Swiss chard or green cabbage. Eat fresh broccoli with a vegetarian sauce for the snack.
Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber also helps keep your digestive system healthy. Enjoy the porridge with only a little brown sugar and lots of strawberries and nuts for breakfast. Cold cereals with oatmeal are also good for you. Just choose brands that do not contain extra sugar.
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and is an integral part of a Mediterranean diet. Choose olive oil for cooking or prepare an excellent vinaigrette for whole grain bread by pouring a little olive oil into a small bowl and adding balsamic and a pinch of oregano.
6. Red Wine
Red wine contains polyphenols that can be good for your heart. But enjoy it in moderation. Studies show that you only need four to eight ounces of red per day. You can abstain from alcohol, drink alcohol and enjoy health benefits.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that protect the heart by reducing inflammation and the risk of blood clots. These fats also keep your cholesterol levels healthy. At least twice a week, eat salmon or other dark blue fish such as tuna, sardines or herring. For a hearty meal, try grilled salmon fillets with green vegetables and a salad with lemon juice instead of a high-calorie salad dressing.
8. Soy Protein
Soy protein can prevent heart attacks, especially when used to replace red meat. Consuming soy instead of meat also reduces the intake of saturated fats and increases omega-3s. Add tofu to your favorite pan or pour the soymilk into your morning cereal.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins and concentrated tomato products are rich in lycopene. Adding lycopene to your diet can help protect your heart, especially if your current diet does not contain all the antioxidants you need. So add some slices of tomatoes to sandwiches and salads or enjoy a tomato sauce in whole pasta.
Most nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and other natural substances that help control cholesterol levels. Nuts are special because they are also a good source of herbal omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are a great snack with fruits. At breakfast, sprinkle with honey or blueberries on a bowl of hot oatmeal. Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help maintain a healthy heart and lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
11. Whole Grains
Make a sandwich with two slices of 100% whole wheat bread, three ounces of lean turkey breast, sliced tomato and avocado slices, a salad and a little mustard. You can also go from white pasta to whole wheat pasta.