February is American Heart Month, but that doesn’t mean you should only worry about having a healthy heart for 28 days out of the year. Heart health is incredibly important; if you take care of your heart, you’ll be less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke, the most common killer in the USA.
The foods that you eat can have a great impact on your heart’s health. Think of your heart as a high performance sports car: if you put super-premium fuel in, you’ll get better results. Here are nine super-premium foods to keep your ticker in tip-top shape:
Oatmeal Oatmeal is good for your heart because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and folate. The fiber in oatmeal is very beneficial for your heart because it can lower levels of your bad cholesterol (LDL), which can clear up your arteries.
Avocados Like oatmeal, avocados will help lower your LDL cholesterol levels; they will also raise the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in your body. They also make it easier for your body to absorb other nutrients that are good for your heart, such as beta-carotene and lycopene.
Olive Oil Olive oil is chocked full of monounsaturated fats, which reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your LDL cholesterol levels. The extra-virgin and virgin olive oils are the best for your heart and can be substituted for butter when you are cooking.
Nuts The healthiest nuts for your heart are walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. All of these contain omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Eating them often will also increase the amount of fiber in your diet.
Flax seed This little seed can make a big difference in your heart’s health. It contains high amounts of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids. My dad always puts some freshly ground flax seed on his cereal for breakfast and he has one of the healthiest hearts his doctor has ever seen.
Berries All berries are good for your heart, but blackberries and blueberries are the best. Berries have a ton of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk for cancer while also reducing your risk for heart disease.
Soy Soy is a fantastic source of lean protein for a healthy heart. It can also lower your cholesterol, which is good for your arteries. Some processed soy products have high amounts of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure, so watch out for that. A general rule of thumb: stick to the natural soy products, such as edamame or silken tofu, to get the most benefits from this food.
Legumes These fiber-rich foods are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. Try eating some lentils, chickpeas, black beans, or kidney beans to make your heart happy and healthy.
Do you know of any other heart healthy foods? Maybe a special recipe that uses these ingredients? Share your ideas and comments below!
by Kelsey Murray
January 4th, 2011