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With heart disease being the leading cause of death, it’s no wonder why there is plenty of talk about being heart healthy. While a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that incorporate lean proteins and fish is key to a healthy lifestyle, there are a few foods that stand out in their healing power. Here are ten of them.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, nor is it a suggestion that these are the most heart smart foods. These are just ten foods to consider in your heart healthy lifestyle.
Blueberries: Full of antioxidants and folate, blueberries are known to fight heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. They also include plenty of fiber and vitamin C. Use them on top of your cereal and salads and add them to baked goods.
Tofu and soymilk: The soy-based products include plenty of healthy benefits and are rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium. Tofu is a great meat substitute and soymilk can replace the regular milk you drink and add to foods daily.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is full of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, soluble fiber and folate. It’s a great start to your day or you can add oats to your favorite baked cookies.
Spinach: This flavorful green vegetable includes calcium, fiber, potassium and B-complex vitamins. Use spinach in place of lettuce in salads and sandwiches. Cooked spinach is delicious as well.
Salmon: Oily fish are a good source of vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon has the highest concentration omega-3s, but tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies are also good source. You can grill salmon; add it to a stir-fry, pasta or even a salad.
Flax seeds: These small seeds pack a nutritional punch and are easy to add to foods, virtually unnoticed. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens and fiber. Add them to your breakfast cereal, yogurt or baked items.
Red wine: Now, here’s some great news. Red wine has antioxidants that can improve your good cholesterol levels. Enjoy a glass now and then, knowing it’s good for you.
Black and kidney beans: These beans are high in soluble fiber, B-complex vitamins and folate. Because they are low in fat, they’re a great protein source in your meals. Add them to soups, serve them over rice or make some chilli.
Almonds and walnuts: Another great source omega-3s, these nuts are great as a snack by themselves or added to other foods. They also have mono and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium and fiber.
Sweet potatoes: Not only do they taste good, but sweet potatoes also have plenty to offer nutritionally. They are a great course of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamins A, C and E. Eat them as a side dish or puree them into pancakes and muffins.
How can you incorporate these nutritious and flavorful foods into your diet? How about starting with a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, spinach salad for lunch and lovely grilled fish in the evening? And don’t forget that glass or red wine…it’s good for you!
Interested in being a part of the next Essentia Health Better U? Email Jeri.Hughes@essentiahealth.org