The Best Foods for Your Heart Health

Being Mother’s Day, I thought I would focus on our hearts. From the young to the elderly, it is never too late to focus on heart health and make improvement if needed. Here’s a quick list of some of the most heart healthy foods you can include in your diet. Think of ways to incorporate these foods, even one of them, to potentially improve your heart health. I’ll even toss in some ways to “dress up” these foods so they seem less boring.

Legumes

Loaded with fiber, legumes are filling by themselves. Black and kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all quality legumes that promote heart health. Additionally they are rich in omega-3 fats and calcium, legumes are an all-around health food.  How to spice it up? Think three bean salad and go from there.

Oatmeal

Everyone preaches about making sure to eat breakfast. Well no matter when you eat it, oatmeal is one of the best foods for promoting heart health. Real oatmeal, not the quickie instant stuff, is full of omega-3 fats, the vitamin folate, and potassium. Then add in oatmeal is packed with fiber and it can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and you can see why doctors and nutritionists call it a superfood. There are plenty of ways to spice up oatmeal too. Adding berries, our next heart-healthy food, is one of those options.

Berries

Doesn’t matter what berry, just include berries in your diet. “Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks. “But all berries aer great for your vascular health.”

I prefer strawberries and raspberries due to their high fiber content and the taste they provide in my protein smoothies and yogurt.

Olive Oil

Italians and other European countries have done it for years and the proof is in many studies like the Seven Countries Study. Substituting olive oil for butter or a diet high in olive oil lowers the risk for heart disease. Olive oil is full of healthy fats that lower LDL (bad) cholesterol thereby decreasing your risk for heart disease. Choose virgin or extra-virgin varieties.

Flaxseed

Guess what this is full of? Healthy fats! Seeing the pattern yet. Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber so of course its going to improve heart health. Pass on the liquid if you can and simply by the flaxseed itself. You can crush the seeds or grind them up and sprinkle them on almost anything to give it a heart-health boost. Think about adding it to oatmeal, yogurt or even a cheat meal such as waffles at Sunday brunch.

Spinach

RIch in folate, potassium and fiber, spinach is similar to berries in how it can improve heart health. The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%. That’s staggering in that you can potentially reduce YOUR risk by 42% simply by making ONE dietary change. Don’t like your greens? You can get plenty of organic, raw greens with these benefits in one powder from Prescription Nutrition.

Nuts

If you do not have a nut allergy then this is a reason to start eating them. While walnuts appear to be the best for your in terms of health, they can quite expensive. Consider almonds or macadamia nuts as replacements. Nuts are full of omega-3 fats and unsaturated (healthy) fats as well. Plus they contain fiber and protein which help to keep you feeling fuller longer. Dress them up with some honey and bake them in your oven for a satisfying treat throughout the day.

Salmon

Let me be specific, WILD Salmon. Farm-raised salmon are loaded with heavy (toxic, not the rocker kind) metals, insecticides, and pesticides. Salmon is rich in, you guessed it, omega-3 fats and can effectively reduce blood pressure. “Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says Dr. Sinatra.

You can replace salmon if you do not like the taste or the price too. Fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna work well as a substitute.

Avocado

Similar to olive oil, avocados are simply awesome. You can add this food to almost anything from sandwiches to sushi. “Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids—especially beta-carotene and lycopene—which are essential for heart health.”

This list is not concise by any means. These foods are just the most common heart-healthy foods in my opinion and I encourage you to make a change, if even one, because you can improve your current and future heart health tremendously with even just one change. I’ll leave you with two infographics to show you just how much is at risk and how easy it is to improve your health.

Graphic showing statistics of heart diseaseGraphic showing how to improve heart health

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