Cardiovascular disease and other heart-related ailments are as rampant as ever amongst Americans. Protect your heart, and include these superstar foods in your diet regularly.
Roasted soy nuts – This crunchy, nutty, great-tasting whole soy food is loaded with heart-healthy goodness including B vitamins, vitamin E, omega 3 fats, and soluble fiber. Whole soy foods have been shown to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol, providing a double-bonus for heart-health.
Walnuts – Nuts in general score a perfect 10 when it comes to heart-healthy performance, but walnuts are the true gold medal winner. Walnuts are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E, and provide more omega 3 fats than any other nut. Strive to include a small handful daily.
Steel Cut Oats – Known as the “gourmet oatmeal” – this delicious whole grain is overflowing with goodness including a potent cholesterol-lowering, soluble fiber called beta-glucan and the heart-healthy minerals manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Filling, yet low in calories, a small bowl of steel-cut oats for breakfast will keep your waist trim and your heart happily pumping.
Cherries – This gem of a fruit is red hot when it comes to heart health. Cherries provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin C, and beta carotene, but are most prized for the super-potent plant pigments they provide called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins reduce both oxidation and inflammation – providing a vital, one-two punch that keeps your arteries open and healthy.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil– This highly flavored, for real make-me-healthier fat provides four separate benefits to your arteries – making it hands down the very best oil for your heart. It’s unique combination of monounsaturated fats and antioxidant polyphenols have been shown to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, boost good (HDL) cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and lower blood pressure.
Green Tea – This superstar elixir of good health provides one of the easiest, quickest, and most relaxing ways to infuse your arteries with protective antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent bad cholesterol from building up in your arteries and keeps arteries functioning like a smooth-spinning top. Freshly brewed tea has more antioxidant power than any other fruit or vegetable.
Dark Chocolate – This sweet indulgence is truly a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Dark chocolate is teaming with super-charged antioxidants called flavanols that tend to work magic on the cells that line your arteries, resulting in enhanced blood flow and lower blood pressure. For best results, enjoy a prudent portion (1/2 – 1 oz.) of high quality (60% or greater cacao content) dark chocolate regularly.
Wild Alaskan Salmon – Fresh, frozen, or canned, this superstar protein is nature’s very best source of heart-healthy omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats provide 7 separate benefits to your arteries qualifying them as virtual wonder fats for cardiovascular health.
Salsa – This tasty, low-calorie dip provides a cornucopia of heart-healthy foods including tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic. These foods provide fiber, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, all working together in powerful synergy to protect your heart and arteries.
Lentils – When it comes to heart health, this simple food has a stellar nutritional pedigree. Lentils are brimming with cholesterol-lowering fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6 and provide more folate than any other food. Lentils cook quickly, requiring no presoaking and tend to cause less gas than other beans/legumes.
Brown Rice – This true whole grain is a fantastic choice for boosting heart health. Whole grains like brown rice provide a superstar package of several artery-friendly nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals. People that include whole grains regularly in their diets have lower cholesterol levels and get less heart disease. (For more on foods that lower cholesterol, check out Dr. Ann’s Just Say Whoa! to High Cholesterol Grocery List)