A healthy diet is your best weapon in fighting heart-related diseases, but not all foods are created equal. Here are 15 heart healthy foods that you should add to your diet starting today.
When it comes to healthy eating, there is so much information out there that it can become quite confusing. From fat free to low carb, there seems to be a new health fad every few years– does anyone remember the oat bran craze from way back when?
Even amidst all of the conflicting information, one thing is for certain: a diet high in saturated fat is not good for your body, especially your heart. And since heart disease is the number one cause of death in this country, you should do all you can to make sure your heart is at its healthiest.
The best foods for your heart contain antioxidants that “flush” out damaging toxins. If you are trying to eat heart healthy, there are some key foods that you should incorporate into your diet.
Here are 15 heart healthy foods that you should eat every single day:
1. Orange Juice. A glass of orange juice fortified with vitamins C and E may be just what the doctor ordered. In a recent study, heart patients who drank fortified orange juice daily experienced a decrease in blood pressure.
2. Oats. Start your day off with a bowl of fiber-rich oatmeal. Recent studies have shown that a bowl of oatmeal per day lowers cholesterol levels. According to the studies, oatmeal actually “sweeps” cholesterol out of the body. For the greatest health benefits, try to choose uncooked, old fashioned oatmeal in lieu of flavored instant brands.
3. Olive or Canola oil. These oils contain heart healthy mono-saturated fat and should be chosen over other vegetable oils. Olive oil contains polyphenols, which lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Use a small amount of oil daily, drizzled on salads, vegetables, or to dip bread in.
4. Nuts. All types of nuts contain fiber, vitamin E, folic acid and other minerals. Nuts also lower cholesterol and help prevent against coronary artery disease. Watch your intake of nuts, however, because they contain a lot of calories. Eat a serving in lieu of other snacks.
5. Purple grape juice or wine. Purple grape juice has been shown to have a thinning effect on the blood, as well as antioxidant properties. Try to drink a glass of 100% grape juice every day. Red wine can be substituted in moderation.
6. Soy Products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that you eat 25 grams of soy protein per day. You can get your soy allotment by drinking soy milk or by eating tofu, soy cheese, soy vegetable burgers and other soy products.
7. Colorful fruits. Brighter is better when it comes to heart healthy fruits. Eat blueberries, strawberries, peaches, raspberries and cantaloupe. The FDA recommends 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
8. Garlic and Onions. These are truly super foods. Both garlic and onions lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Add onions or garlic cloves to your cooking or, if you really love the taste, eat some raw– just brush your teeth afterwards!
9. Whole grains. Not enough good things can be said about whole grain products. Full of fiber, folic acid, magnesium and vitamin E, whole grains should be an integral part of your diet. Get your share by eating whole grain cereals, like Total or Cheerios, or 100% whole grain breads.
10. Foods containing folate. Leafy greens, like spinach, asparagus and romaine lettuce, are great sources of folate, and as of 1996 folate has been added to some grain products as well. In fact, coinciding with the addition of folate to food products in 1996, researchers at the Center for Disease Control noted a significant drop in heart attack and stroke mortality rates.
11. Ginger. Add powdered ginger to your diet for it’s blood thinning effects. You can add powdered ginger to a beverage or mix it into applesauce or plain yogurt.
12. Beans. Eating protein-rich beans and other legumes reduces your risk of heart disease. There are many varieties of beans for you to choose from. Add kidney beans to salads or cook up some black beans or lentils to go with your dinner. Keep plenty of dried, fresh and canned beans on hand.
13. Skinless Chicken and Fish. In lieu of fatty red meats, choose free range chicken or fish that contains omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna. Always remove the fatty skin from chicken before you cook it and try to eat fish at least twice a week.
14. Dark Chocolate. Yes, it’s true! Dark chocolate is recommended as part of a heart healthy diet due to its antioxidant properties. Be sure that the chocolate is of good quality, containing at least 70% cocoa solids. And don’t overindulge—a little bit of this sweet stuff goes a long way.
15. Green Tea. Green tea gets a lot of buzz for its many health benefits. It has been touted as cancer fighter as well as an aid in preventing headaches and tooth decay. Well, you can add it to your heart healthy program as well. This miracle drink is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants, which help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk. Drink it hot or iced every day and watch your health improve!
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