Superfoods For A Healthier Heart

Superfoods For A Healthier Heart

Eat These 7 Superfoods To Maximize Your Heart Health

Nothing matters more than taking good care of your heart.

Getting regular exercise, not smoking, and controlling stress are just a few things we can do to keep ourselves in shape, along with eating a variety of nutritious, heart-healthy foods that make up a healthy diet.

Increase intake of these 7 “superfoods” to eat your way to a healthier heart:
1. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most powerful disease-fighting foods. That's because they contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant responsible for their dark blue color. These delicious jewels are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and heart-healthy potassium.

Add them into your diet regularly in yogurt, smoothies, trail mix, salads or on top of cereal or by themselves.

2. Salmon

This cold-water fish is a great source of protein and is also packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association advises eating salmon and other omega-3 rich foods twice a week for benefits that go beyond heart health. Make sure your salmon is wild caught to avoid toxic heavy metals and lack of nutrients that can be found in farm-raised salmon.

Marinate salmon in a lime, onion, garlic, and soy sauce mixture for 15 minutes before grilling for a delicious fish taco or grilled fish sandwich.

3. Oatmeal

Oats are nourishing whole grains and a great source of vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Research shows oats lower cholesterol levels, keep you regular, and may help prevent certain cancers.

Add oats whenever you bake. Substitute oat flour in place of white or wheat flour in pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and coffee cakes for an added dose of fiber. Or try oats in place of breadcrumbs in dishes, such as meatloaf, meatballs, or breading on poultry.

4. Kale

Even more powerful than spinach, kale is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom. Its rich, dark color comes from the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight. To top it off, kale is also the “king of calcium” which delivers the highest absorbable form of calcium possible.

Mix kale with pine nuts and raisins, then stuff into winter squash and bake for a colorful, delicious main or side dish. Even easier, sauté with garlic and olive oil.

5. Flaxseed

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, phytoestrogens and fiber, this powerful seed is most effective when it is ground up and stored away from light, heat and air. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the risk of blood clots, stroke and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help lower LDL “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides.

IDEAS ON HOW TO INCORPORATE: Ground flaxseed works easily in all sorts of foods – on top of salads or soup, in yogurt parfaits, smoothies, or morning cereal.

6. Almonds and Walnuts

Almonds and walnuts are high in:

  • Plant omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin E; magnesium
  • Folate
  • Fiber
  • Heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats and phytosterols

MENU IDEA: Mix a few almonds (and berries) into low-fat yogurt, trail mix, or fruit salads and add walnuts to salads, pastas, cookies, muffins, even pancakes for a flavorful crunch.

7. Brown Rice

Brown rice contains high levels of B-complex vitamins and magnesium, which nourish our central nervous system. Vitamin B-12 (folate) and vitamin B-6 — protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Niacin (vitamin B-3) helps increase HDL “good” cholesterol.

Dining Out And Heart Health

What about when eating out?

Many restaurants do not yet offer things like kale, flaxseed or brown rice. However, there are many choices you can make to support your heart and your health.

When dining out:

  • Ask that your food be steamed, poached or baked instead of sautéed or fried.
  • Ask for a side of olive oil and lemon to dress it yourself with the “good fat.”
  • Request your dressing on the side and choose oil and vinegar whenever possible (when eating salads).
  • Get an extra serving of veggies (broccoli, carrots, spinach) and forego the white rice or potato.
  • Choose lighter sauces vs. cream-based sauces. Also, it’s important to think outside the box.
  • If there is nothing on the menu that speaks to you, make up your own meal from the appetizers and sides that are offered.

Additional Heart Healthy Food Tips

By choosing heart-healthy foods, the “bad” fats naturally find their way out of our diet and life.

Two BIG takeaways:

  1. Steer clear of margarine or anything labeled trans-fats or fractionated palm kernel oil.
  2. Moderate other high cholesterol foods like butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat and other highly dense animal foods.

With only a few simple changes, you will be well on your way to lowering your cholesterol, having more energy and taking care of that amazing heart that beats for you, every second of every single day.

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