February is American Heart Association Month and it should probably be on our minds more than just once per year, because more than one in three adults has some form of cardiovascular disease. Yikes!
The food you eat is just as critical for your heart as exercising. In fact, a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. By understanding which foods are good for your heart, you may be able to lower cholesterol, prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure, and take greater control over the quality and length of your life.
Read on to uncover 10 foods that will keep your ticker in tip-top condition.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week. Each serving should be 3.5 ounces, cooked. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids which your body needs to function.
A handful of nuts like almonds or walnuts will curb your hunger and help your heart. A study published in 2015 looked at cholesterol and body fat in people who ate 1.5 oz of almonds a day versus a muffin with similar calories. In six weeks, people who ate the almonds, instead of the muffins, had lower LDL cholesterol by an average of 5 mg/dL. They also had less belly and leg fat.
Berries are filled with heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. Berries protect your heart and brain, and slow down aging—and they’re a cancer cell’s worst nightmare. Because they are lower in sugar than most other fruits, berries areless likely to destabilize your insulin. Try blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries in your cereal or yogurt.
Small amounts of red wine are linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic beverage. People who drink approximately 150 ml (5 oz) of red wine a day seem to be at about a 32% lower risk of heart disease than non-drinkers. But don’t get crazy.
Red, yellow and orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, squash, and pumpkin contain flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. They are also packed with carotenoids and fiber to help your heart.
Popeye always ate his because spinach is definitely good for you! The vitamin C, beta-carotene and other nutrients in spinach work together to prevent oxidized cholesterol from building up in the blood vessel walls. Use it in sandwiches and salads instead of iceberg lettuce.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are great for you because they contain compounds called flavonoids, which may have anticancer properties. Citrus flavonoids are also antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and may protect against heart disease. Studies show that citrus flavonoids may improve blood flow through coronary arteries and help reduce arteries’ ability to form blood clots.
No matter how you say, tomatoes are delicious and great for your health! Tomatoes provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene.
Everyone loves chocolate! And good news, it’s good for your heart too. A study published in the journal Heart found that habitual chocolate eaters had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke compared to people who didn’t eat chocolate.
Crisp, fresh vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower are a great snack, packed with a ton of nutrients. Broccoli has very high fiber content, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins which help reduce bad cholesterol to keep the heart functioning properly and regulating blood pressure. Try dipping them in hummus to make them even more delicious!
Which of these foods will you be buying more of at the grocery store? Although February is dedicated to promoting heart health, we think it should be a priority all year long. Let us know how you’re taking care of your heart while on assignment! Tweet us @TriageStaff or visit our Facebook page — Have you worked with us before? You can even leave a review while you’re there and we’ll send you a free t-shirt!