What are four heart healthy foods?
Both heart disease and diabetes have been the center of media and research attention. For good reason, too. In the United States, China, and many other countries, diabetes and heart disease have shown up as top risk factors for complications with COVID-19.
Even though the vaccine is currently being distributed, there’s never been a better time to focus on your heart’s health.
What you eat plays a major role in heart health.
In fact, certain foods may improve cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure. Here are four heart healthy foods that you can add to your meals.
Eat nuts for better heart health.
Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts are small but mighty for heart health. Nuts have unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, protein, and several micronutrients that can help improve your heart’s health.
People who eat nuts more frequently may see a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who rarely or never eat nuts.
Even though, as much as 80% of a nut is fat, studies suggest that diets high in nuts do not significantly affect weight. Pay attention to serving sizes with nuts. But don’t avoid them because they’re high in fat.
Try adding nuts to recipes, eating as snacks, or try some recipes from Walnuts.org.
Beans are cheap and heart healthy.
Beans are full of resistant starch. This type of starch doesn’t get digested and is fermented by the bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch may improve heart health by decreasing triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Remember how LDL cholesterol is the “bad” type of cholesterol? Pinto beans and other legumes may help lower LDL cholesterol.
Beans are also excellent sources of fiber, folate, protein, iron, and other minerals. Canned beans and dried beans are about the same in nutrients. But canned beans may be higher in sodium. Draining and rinsing canned beans helps reduce the sodium.
Slowly increasing beans in your diet can help reduce bloating feelings that people often associate with beans. Remember to cook beans, as the cooking process deactivates certain toxins in raw beans.
Go for whole grains.
When it comes to heart health, whole grains are where it’s at. They are a healthy dose of dietary fiber, which helps improve blood cholesterol levels.
In addition to fiber, grains are a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, and magnesium. These nutrients help form new cells, carry oxygen in the blood, and help maintain a healthy immune system.
Keep in mind refined grains contain little or no fiber. Some common whole grain foods to look for on the ingredient list are whole wheat, graham flour, oats, and whole grain barley.
Add leafy green vegetables to your plate.
Spinach, kale, and collard greens are well known leafy vegetables. And don’t forget about arugula and chard. They are a significant source of vitamin K, which helps protect your arteries and handles proper blood clotting.
A high intake of these types of vegetables may help lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
Try cooking up and adding leafy greens to different recipes, which can help those that don’t enjoy eating raw vegetables.
To add more flavor, use vegetable broth in place of water, or add chopped onions and garlic to the cooking liquid. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little oil or dressing after cooking.
When you choose these foods for your meals, you’re making heart-healthy choices.