In keeping with tradition, we’ll be focusing on the health of your heart during the month of February. Today let’s get you fed some heart-nourishing foods! Most of us are already aware of how important the health of the heart is, and how much of our quality of life it affects. The most important thing you can do for your heart is to eat foods that keep your body flourishing. Some of the best bets for keeping that heart healthy are:
Leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, chard, collards, bok choy, and the like are well known as a wellspring of vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which protect the integrity of the arteries. Studies have shown that when people significantly increase their intake of leafy greens, their incidence of heart disease decreases.
Berries – Filled with fiber and antioxidants, berries are the fruit of choice for improving the efficiency of the heart.
Avocados – Avocados are also rich in potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to heart health. In fact, just one avocado supplies 975 milligrams of potassium, or about 28% of the amount that you need in a day. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, too. They may help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of metabolic syndrome.
Fatty fish and fish oil – Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied extensively for their heart-health benefits. In one study, each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) decrease in weekly fish consumption was associated with a 19% higher likelihood of having one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. Of course, be certain the source for your fish is a good, clean one. Look for wild caught salmon as opposed to farm raised.
Nuts & seeds – High in fiber, monounsaturated fats, and protein, these tiny foods really pack a nutritional punch. Studies have shown nuts help lower LDL (so called “bad”) cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol. Seeds help reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Plus, they’re the perfect grab n’ go snack.
Tomatoes – The lycopene found in high levels in tomatoes is what earns them a spot on the heart healthy foods list. Lycopene is an antioxidant, and antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, preventing oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which can contribute to heart disease. Studies have shown that increased tomato consumption correlates with decreased risk of heart disease and heart failure. Cooking, crushing, or juicing tomatoes will help make the lycopene in them more bioavailable.
Garlic – Garlic is rich in allicin, which has a ton of health benefits. Among those are the balancing of cholesterol and the reduction of platelet buildup which helps reduce unwanted clotting and strokes. Chopping or crushing garlic is the best way to get access to that allicin.
Olive oil – Lots of heart benefits here! It’s anti-inflammatory, has been shown to help regulate blood pressure, and is a great source of monounsaturated fats. Regular consumption of olive oil has been shown to decrease deaths from heart disease, so drizzle some of that oil over your garlic-tomato sauce today!