Think eating healthy means eating boring? Think again.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a “heart healthy diet?” If you’re like most people, probably nothing positive. Maybe the words “bland,” “boring,” or “blah” popped into your head.
Well guess what? You’ve got it all wrong. It’s not all leafy greens and oatmeal. (You should still eat them though because they are super healthy for you!) Don’t believe us? Check out this list of foods for heart health and tell us if it doesn’t make you hungry.
5 of the Best Foods For Heart Health:
Salmon: Salmon, and other “oily” fish like tuna, sardines, and mackerel are heart-healthy powerhouses. They contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up). The American Heart Association recommends eating these types of fish twice a week. Keep in mind though, that battering, frying, or covering the fish in a creamy, buttery sauce doesn’t count – it basically cancels out the health benefits. Try cooking salmon at a high heat with some herbs, drizzle with lemon juice, and voila, you’re a heart health chef!
Nuts: Nuts have gotten a bad rap because of their fat content, but it’s really not fair. Their unsaturated fats actually help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, making them good foods for heart health. Some, like walnuts, are also high in Omega-3s. Look for almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, and macadamias without much added salt.
Blueberries: Or any berry really. The rich colors of the berries are clues that they are packed full of anthocyanins which are antioxidants that help decrease blood pressure. One study even suggests that women who eat three or more servings of berries a week lower their risk of a heart attack by 32%. As if that wasn’t enough, berries also contain Vitamin C and fiber (and they’re delicious)!
Dark Chocolate: Before you make a beeline for some M&Ms though, read that again – dark chocolate. Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) contains flavonoids (they promote healthy blood circulation and supple arteries) and polyphenols (antioxidants that reduce inflammation and plaque build-up). It’s also a great source of magnesium, a mineral essential to heart function. Want to really go crazy? Try this Cacao Blueberry Smoothie and combine two heart healthy foods into one delicious treat.
Legumes: No list of foods for heart health is complete without this heart healthy superfood. With legumes (beans, lentils, and peas) the possibilities really are endless. They’re delicious in soups and salads, with rice, in place of meat in tacos and quesadillas, tossed with some spinach and garlic…need we go on? Studies have shown that people who eat legumes at least four times a week have a 22% less risk of heart disease than people who rarely eat them. Beans are full of protein, folate, and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Did we mention you can also use garbanzo (chickpea) flour in your favorite baked goods?
These five delicious heart healthy foods are just a drop in the bucket. For more ideas on incorporating foods for heart health into your diet, or for information on making your workplace more “heart friendly,” contact us today!