An overall healthy diet is important to keep your heart working properly. While no one food will offset the negative effects of a poor diet, certain foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are especially good for your heart. In fact, if your heart could smile, we think these six foods would do the trick.
Learn more about each food below and try out the recipes to add these foods into your diet.
This oily fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which is an essential acid that reduces inflammation in your body. It helps make blood less likely to clump and stick to the walls of the arteries and lowers your risk of blood vessel damage. Omega-3 may also lower you triglyceride levels, reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease, and lower the risk of abnormal heart beats, which may lead to sudden death.
TRY IT: LEMON PARSLEY SALMON
Almonds are loaded with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein. They also help maintain good cholesterol levels and can help you raise your HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol” because they are healthy in high polyunsaturated fatty acids. If you don’t care for almonds or want to mix it up, you can try hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts—all have heart health benefits. Just remember to limit your portion to one serving of nuts as they can be high in calories.
TRY IT: STRAWBERRY AND GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD (Swap pistachios with almonds!)
Spinach is rich in antioxidant vitamins and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce your risk for blood vessel damage and heart disease. It’s also high in folate, which has been found to reduce the blood levels of homocysteine, an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Plus, it’s packed with vitamins A, C, and E.
TRY IT: FRUIT AND SPINACH SMOOTHIE
As a whole grain food, oatmeal provides a heart healthy soluble fiber, which attracts water and turns into gel during digestion. This helps lower bad cholesterol levels because it reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream. Oatmeal is also low in fat and high in protein, making it a favorite among those who want to manage their weight, blood sugar and diabetes risk.
TRY IT: OATMEAL PARFAIT
Beans are another powerhouse of soluble fiber. They are one of the best foods you can introduce or increase in your diet to protect your heart. Add them to your meals or use them in place of red meat, which is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Different beans offer different flavors so try a variety (black, navy, white, kidney, or garbanzo) in your diet.
TRY IT: HEARTY WHITE BEAN VEGETABLE SOUP
The multiple antioxidants and flavonoids in cacao help decrease inflammation, which make it a heart-friendly ingredient. When made into chocolate, the added sugar decreases the health benefits and nutritional value. Stick with dark chocolate that has at least 70% cacao and, if it’s too bitter for your taste buds, add it to naturally sweet foods, such as fruit.