Our hearts do so much for us, it’s important we feed them well. Fortunately when you choose Diet-to-Go you can be assured you are getting all the nutrients your heart needs to be healthy and work it’s very best. But what about when you’re not eating Diet-to-Go? What are the best foods for a healthy heart?
Fish are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are the true hero of heart healthy foods. Omega-3s as they’re known to those in the know, are essential fatty acids that have shown to help reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting: all great things for your heart.
Ground flaxseed (as opposed to flaxseed oil) is a good source of fiber as well as Omega-3s. As mentioned above, Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease. And in addition to being a good source of Omega-3s, ground flaxseed is also full of fiber. Fiber, our weight loss friend, also plays an integral role in our heart health. Fiber helps to reduce inflammation in our bodies as well as lower blood cholesterol levels, all of which makes our hearts very happy. The nice part about ground flaxseed is that you can be sneaky, adding it to all sorts of food, such as yogurt or cereal without even noticing.
Not only does oatmeal provide a filling, warm start to the day but it is also full of fiber as well as potassium, folate, niacin and calcium. And if you top off your bowl with some fresh berries you'll be adding in some antioxidants. Go for the steel-cut oats over the instant varieties. It may take a little longer to cook but the increased fiber will be worth it.
While high in calories, nuts are still a good component of a heart healthy diet. Nuts are high in the good, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and can actually improve the lining of your arteries.
Our arteries are our internal train system, continually transporting essential nutrients and oxygen from our heart to the rest of the body. Nuts have a substance, arginine, that helps relax blood vessels and prevents clotting. And some nuts, especially walnuts, contain alpha-linolenic acid, a precursor to omega-3 fatty acid, which mentioned before, helps protect against heart disease. Good nut choices include walnuts, almonds and pistachios. Just be careful of serving size though as the calories can add up.
Not only are avocados chock full of monounsaturated fat, the fat that helps lower cholesterol, but they also facilitate the absorption of other important nutrients such as lycopene which is essential for heart health.
A little shopping tip: avocados do not ripen until picked, so fresh ones will be as hard as rocks. Look for an even and unblemished texture, uniformly hard or soft over its entire surface. You can do a little "shake test" before you buy: shake the fruit, yes it's a fruit, if you hear the pit rattling around, put it down and walk away.
There are so many foods that help our hearts stay healthy. The key ingredients to look for are: fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat and stay away from fried, highly processed foods. Eating foods like that, and exercising, will make, and keep, your heart will strong and healthy!
Author: Sue Ridgeway