By Marisa Hochberg : https://twitter.com/marisahochberg
If you want to maintain optimal cardiovascular health, you need to incorporate a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein sources. In addition, how much of each particular type of food you eat is just as important. When it comes to heart health, you should limit your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol from animal sources—which includes butter and other dairy products—and sodium. Instead, choose healthier fats such as those found in olive oil or canola oil; monounsaturated fatty acids from foods like avocados or nuts; and polyunsaturated fatty acids from foods like fish or walnuts. Fortunately, many delicious foods are rich in these heart-healthy nutrients. Read on to learn more about the top heart-healthy foods you need to include in your diet…
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and are rich in fiber, which helps to fill you up faster, preventing you from overeating. They’re also low in calories and sodium. Beans, including black beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas, are a great source of magnesium, which may help to lower blood pressure. Adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are rich in iron, which is important for energy and metabolism. You can add beans and legumes to salads, soups, chili, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and more. They’re also great on their own as snacks.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are another important part of a heart-healthy diet. They’re low in calories and fat, and they contain vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, folate (also known as folic acid), and vitamins A, C, E, and K. You can eat them by themselves like a salad or with whole-grain bread or tortillas as a wrap.
Fruits to Eat for Heart Health
Fruits are important for a healthy diet because they’re high in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Some of the best fruits for heart health are apples, oranges, grapefruit, melons, papayas, and tomatoes. You can eat them fresh or add them to shakes, smoothies, or other beverages. You can also include them in desserts, like blueberry muffins or banana-walnut pancakes.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a healthy source of protein and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them another important part of a heart-healthy diet. Peanuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, and walnuts are especially good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help to reduce blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. You can eat nuts and seeds as part of your diet, or you can use them as snacks.
Lean Meat and Seafood
Lean meat, poultry, and seafood are excellent sources of protein and contain essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Boost their heart-healthy potential by choosing wild-caught fish, such as salmon, tuna, or lake trout; dark-meat poultry, such as skinless turkey; lean cuts of white-meat chicken, turkey bacon, and shrimp; and lean cuts of beef, such as leaner cuts of steak, ground beef, and low-fat hamburger. You can cook with these meats and use them in recipes or you can eat them as is, as snacks, or add them to salads or other dishes.
Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them a valuable part of a healthy diet. They also contain high amounts of choline, which may help to reduce blood pressure and strengthen artery walls. You can eat eggs any way you like—with whole-grain bread, in omelets and frittatas, in mixed with fruits and vegetables, and more. You can also use them in baking recipes or add them to your protein shakes.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. You can incorporate healthy foods into your diet in a variety of ways. For example, you can eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein sources as part of a healthy diet. You can also add healthy fats, such as olive oil, canola oil and nuts and seeds, to your meals. You can also maintain a healthy diet by avoiding unhealthy foods such as soda pop, refined grains, high-fat foods, and salty snacks.