14 Heart-Healthy Foods

February 13, 2013

 14 Heart-Healthy Foods

February is American Heart Month and a reminder to us all that heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women in the United States.  So what steps should we take to maintain a healthy heart?  Here are a few tips to remember:

1.  Exercise on a regular basis
2.  Control your cholesterol
3.  Manage your blood pressure
4.  Lose weight
5.  Reduce your blood sugar
6.  Eat heart-healthy foods

The foods you chose to nourish your body can help you to manage and reduce your heart disease risk by helping to control several of the above factors.  Here are 14 heart-healthy foods to incorporate in your diet:

1. Oranges have plenty of nutrients and no cholesterol or saturated fats. Oranges also contain the soluble fiber pectin which helps to block the absorption of cholesterol.  The potassium in oranges has shown to help keep blood pressure under control.

2. Salmon-Omega-3 baby!  Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce your blood pressure.  Researchers say that including two servings of salmon a week in your diet may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by one-third.

3. Oatmeal has beta-glucans which help to lower your cholesterol and stabilize your blood sugar levels.  Oatmeal is also a great source of soluble fiber.

4. Kale is known as a superfood which contains just about every vitamin your body needs and heart-healthy antioxidants to protect against heart disease.  High in nutrients, eating kale will help to lower your blood pressure.

5. Blueberries are full of anti-inflammatories which reduce your risk of heart disease.  They contain hyto-chemical compounds that help ward off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the body and aid in protecting the body against diseases.

6. Lentils are a lean vegetable protein full of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate.   According to studies, legumes, such as lentils, are associated with an 82 percent reduction in the risk of death from heart disease.

ObesityHelp.com via cyclonebill

Photo courtesy of cyclonebill

7. Avocados contain mono and polyunsaturated fat (healthy fats) which help to boost good cholesterol levels and reduce bad cholesterol levels.  Avocados also have almost 20 vitamins and minerals and contain easily absorbed protein as well as fiber.

8. Spinach is full of vitamins and nutrients that your body craves and is one of the highest food sources of vitamin K which aids in normal blood clotting.  With 13 different flavonoids, the nigh nutritional value in spinach protects your body against many diseases, including heart disease.

9. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant, lycopene, which is associated with cardiovascular health.  Tomatoes also supply your body with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

10. Almonds help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your diet.  They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, and oleic and palmitoleic acids that help to lower bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.

11. Garlic contains phyto-nutrient substances that helps to protect against coronary artery diseases.  It is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and full of vitamins that help to ward of diseases.

12. Olive oil is an excellent source of heart-healthy fat. (Monounsaturated fat)  Rich in anti-oxidents, olive oil also contains beta-carotene and vitamin E.  Studies have shown that diets rich in monounsaturated fats helps to prevent heart disease and strokes.

13. Edamame contains no cholesterol, is low in saturated fat, and helps to reduce bad cholesterol.  They are a great source of lean protein too!

14.  Cantaloupe is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and in potassium which helps to lower the risk for stroke as well as lower your blood pressure.


-Feature photo courtesy of driek