American Heart Month is the perfect time to commit to filling your plate with heart-healthy foods. Be sure to include these nutritious, delicious foods in your diet every day.
Healthy foods help your heart in two ways: first, because of what they contain, including nutrients that can help your heart and blood vessels; and second, because of what they don’t contain, such as salt, sugar, unhealthy fats, and other ingredients that may raise “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure.
At NutriHealth Weight Loss, with offices in Georgetown, Middletown and Milford, Delaware, our providers believe that you can enjoy delicious meals while helping your heart. Most heart-healthy foods aren’t just good for you, but they’re tasty and filling, too.
So many heart-healthy foods are available in your grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and specialty markets that it’s hard to narrow them down to a short list. But here’s a place to start, with 10 of our favorites:
Olive oil (and olives, from which olive oil is made), is a star of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart health. It helps increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and reduces the risk of stroke and diabetes.
Oats and oatmeal are rich in soluble fiber, which helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol from foods you eat. Be sure to choose minimally processed oats that don’t contain sugar or other heart-harming ingredients. Other whole grains, such as quinoa and whole-grain breads, are also great for your heart.
All berries are heart-healthy, but blueberries combine an array of nutrients with delicious flavor and versatility. Turn to blueberries for nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, which all help your heart.
Bananas contain dietary fiber and potassium, which is important for heart health and blood pressure management, as well as magnesium, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Bananas are just one kind of fruit that benefits your heart. In addition, you can reach for apples, oranges, grapes, pears, and prunes, as well as a cornucopia of other yummy fruits.
These tasty little packets of flavor are stuffed with heart-healthy nutrients, including blood pressure-lowering potassium and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. If you don’t like lima beans, choose other types of legumes, because they all deliver heart-health benefits.
Soy foods such as tofu, soy milk, and tempeh contain various heart-healthy compounds, including isoflavones. And they’re a great substitute for saturated fat-heavy meats and dairy foods.
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and cabbage, to name a few, contain a wide range of heart health-boosting compounds, including many that decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels.
Other types of vegetables
Leafy greens are just one category of heart-healthy veggies. Others include cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and cauliflower), carrots, bell peppers, and many others. To optimize your nutrient intake from vegetables, eat a rainbow of different color choices.
Many studies have shown links between peanut consumption and heart health. For instance, this study found that peanuts can lower the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease.
Walnuts and other nuts
A recent study found that walnuts can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Like many other types of nuts, walnuts contain heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber, and plant sterols.
Start eating a healthier diet today
You can boost your diet’s heart healthiness by eating more of the plant-based foods listed in this blog. You can also schedule a personal consultation with our caring providers, who offer guidance on nutrition, weight loss, and eating for optimal health. To schedule a consultation, make an appointment online, or call one of our two conveniently located offices.