Heart Healthy Foods & Guidelines

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, but with a healthy lifestyle and diet you can fight against it and reduce heart disease!

The American Heart Association has identified seven health and behavior factors that can help add years to your life, which they call “Life’s Simple 7”!

Life’s Simple 7:

1. Don’t Smoke

2. Maintain a healthy weight

3. Engage in regular physical activity

4. Eat a healthy diet

5. Manage blood pressure

6. Take charge of cholesterol

7. Keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily, including 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, fish twice a week, nuts, legumes and seeds at least 4 times a week, and no more than 1500 mg of sodium a day or more than 2 servings of processed meats a week. For the complete dietary guidelines, visit The American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.

Heart Healthy Foods & Guidelines

Fruits and vegetables that are deeper colored – such as spinach, carrots, peaches and berries – tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals than lighter produce. Fresh produce also help wipe out free radicals in the bloodstream, protecting blood vessels.

Be sure your diet includes nuts and seeds, which provide lots of complex heart-protective phytonutrients. They are also good sources of protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, but they tend to be high in calories, so eat them in moderation.

Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads, such as those containing whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, and buckwheat. Make sure whole grains is listed as the first item in the ingredient list.

Confused? Here are 25 top heart-healthy foods from medicinenet that help protect your heart and blood vessels. Variety is the key here! Make sure you try and incorporate all of these foods in your diet – sticking with the top 5 is not effective!

 

Top 25 Heart-Healthy Foods

1. Salmon

Why it’s heart-healthy: Omega-3 fatty acids help boost the immune system, reduce blood clots, and protect against heart attacks. They also increase good HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries from plaque buildup, are anti-inflammatories, and lower blood pressure.

2. Flaxseed (ground)

Why it’s heart-healthy: Omega-3 fatty acids; fiber, phytoestrogens. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure. Mix it into yogurt, baked goods, and cereal!

3. Oatmeal

Nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acids; magnesium; potassium; folate; niacin; calcium; soluble fiber. Niacin (vitamin B-3) helps increase HDL “good” cholesterol. Magnesium, potassium, and calcium help lower blood pressure, and fiber helps lower cholesterol levels.

4. Black or Kidney Beans

Why it’s heart-healthy: B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.

5. Almonds

Why it’s heart-healthy: Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant sterols that chemically resemble cholesterol — and seem to reduce blood cholesterol.

6. Walnuts

Why it’s heart-healthy: Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols. Vitamins E is an antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage.

7. Red wine

Why it’s heart-healthy: Catechins and reservatrol (flavonoids) – antioxidants that protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol.

8. Tuna

Why it’s heart-healthy: Omega-3 fatty acids; folate; niacin.

9. Tofu

Why it’s heart-healthy: Niacin; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium. It’s a heart-healthy subsitute for red meat!

10. Brown rice

Why it’s heart-healthy: B-complex vitamins; fiber; niacin; magnesium, fiber.

11. Soy milk

Why it’s heart-healthy: Isoflavones (a flavonoid); B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate, calcium; magnesium; potassium; phytoestrogens. B-complex vitamins protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

12. Blueberries

Why it’s heart-healthy: Loaded with antioxidants – Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol – antioxidants that protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol.); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber. A yummy way to take care of your heart!

13. Carrots

Why it’s heart-healthy: Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid); fiber.

14. Spinach

Why it’s heart-healthy: Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber. Make an eggwhite omelet with spinach and broccoli for a heart-healthy breakfast!

15. Broccoli

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber.

16. Sweet potato

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); vitamins A, C, E; fiber. Sweet potatoes taste way better than regular old white potatoes, and are so much better for you! Your heart will thank you.

17. Red bell peppers

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

18. Asparagus

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber. Grill this vegetable with a little drizzle of olive oil and top with slides almonds, but hold the salt!

19. Oranges

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

20. Tomatoes

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

21. Acorn squash

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium; fiber.

22. Cantaloupe

Why it’s heart-healthy: Alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

23. Papaya

Why it’s heart-healthy: Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein (carotenoids); Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

24. Dark chocolate

Why it’s heart-healthy: Reservatrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids). That’s right, chocolate isn’t just for your sweet tooth!

25. Tea

Why it’s heart-healthy: Catechins and flavonols (flavonoids).

 

Be sure to try and incorporate all of these foods in your diet for a healthy heart and a healthy you!






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