There are foods that help to keep your heart functioning at its best. Some foods can help lower your blood pressure. Others can help keep your cholesterol in line. So feel free to add these food items to your shopping cart for a healthy heart:
Nibbling on nuts can cut your risk of heart disease in half. Walnuts for example have lots of good fats. When you use these monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats, you cut your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Walnuts are also a good source of omega-3 fats. Keep in mind that they should be eaten in moderation.
Other options include: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
Berries are loaded with polyphenols. These are antioxidants that mop up damage-causing free radicals in your body. Most also deliver fiber and vitamin C, which are both linked to a lower risk of stroke.
Other options include: Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are great choices.
Legumes (lentils, black beans, kidney beans, lima beans) are a top-notch source of soluble fiber. This type of fiber can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. If you buy canned beans, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties as sodium can raise your blood pressure. Rinse them in water to wash off any added salt.
Other options include: Eggplant, okra, apples, and pears are also good choices for soluble fiber.
Oats have a type of fiber called beta-glucan which can lower your LDL cholesterol. One and a half cups of cooked oatmeal or a little over a cup of cooked barley gives you the amount of beta-glucan you need daily to help lower your cholesterol.
You can also find beta-glucan in barley, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed.
A foundation of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil makes a great choice when you need to limit saturated fat. Fats from animal products and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) raise your bad cholesterol and can make fat build up inside your arteries.
Other options include: Canola oil and safflower oil.
These fruits get their creamy texture from good (monounsaturated) fats, which lower your bad cholesterol. They also seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, so you don’t get chronic inflammation that creates hardening of artery walls.
These wonderful additions to your regular diet can play an important role in your formula for a healthy heart!