Thursday, 23 October 2014

Top 13 Heart Healthy Foods

Simple food choices go a long way when it comes to your heart's health. Focusing on fresh foods full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cut your chances of a heart attack.By including more heart-healthy vegetables in your diet, you will significantly reduce the risk of heart-related illnesses.

Top 13 Heart Healthy Foods

  1 . Almonds

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc all help to make a handful (about 1/4 cup a day) of crunchy almonds good for your heart and your mood. B vitamins and magnesium help produce serotonin, which helps regulate mood. Zinc has also been shown to fight some negative effects of stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease. They're the perfect snack — so much better than a bag of chips. Or, add some slivered beauties to your morning oatmeal.

How to Save: Buy roasted and unsalted almonds from a bulk bin, and get just what you need at a lower per-pound price than packaged nuts.

  2 .  Apple

Apples contain a phytochemical called quercetin which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and may help prevent blood clots as well. Apples contain vitamins and fiber, come in several delicious varieties and are portable. Eat an apple with a handful of walnuts or almonds as a healthy snack or add apple slices to your salads.

  3 . Oatmeal

This heart-healthy grain makes a great hot cereal that will give you an energetic start to the day. It’s an excellent source of soluble fiber, and it reduces LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol levels. Though instant oatmeal does offer health benefits, it can be loaded with added sodium and sugar, so stick with the original old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. They don’t take long to prepare on the stovetop or in the microwave they taste great with added fruit or nuts. Try this Creamy Apricot Oatmeal recipe.

4 . Asparagus

Asparagus contains heart-healthy anti-inflammatory nutrients like folate and vitamins C and D. It is also low in calories and quick cooking. Saute it with sugar snap peas and toss with whole wheat pasta, olive oil, lemon juice, and a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and pepper for a meatless meal fit for a (very healthy) king or queen.

How to Save: Buy it fresh during spring and early summer, when local crops are harvested. Canned asparagus lose something in translation, so they are best left on the shelf, but frozen make a passable substitute for the fresh stuff.

5 . Broccoli

Green vegetables are always a smart dietary choice, but broccoli is a winner because it features nutrients, vitamins C and E, calcium, fiber and potassium.Fiber is really important for our digestive health and provides a sense of fullness. Studies have shown broccoli contributes to heart health, and it’s a great vegetable to introduce to picky kids. Mix it into salads, or add to your kids’ macaroni and cheese.

6 . Tomatoes

This superfood is full of antioxidants and can help lower cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries due to plaque build-up.) Tomatoes also contain vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, beta-carotene and lycopene.

7 . Onions

Onions are a rich source of sulphur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can reduce cholesterol levels, and therefore, prevent heart disease.

8 .  Olive oil

Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.

Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties --they're the least processed -- and use them instead of butter when cooking.

9 . Eat oily fish

Eat oily fish twice a week. Fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.

10 . Lean Meats

Foods high in saturated and trans fats raise levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart disease. Choose lean meats and cook without additional fats. Baking, grilling and broiling are healthy ways to prepare meat.

11 . Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are an easy way to add a big dose of fiber into your diet. They can be purchased in the bulk food area of any grocery store and can be sprinkled over salads, fish or any type of meal or snack. To give you an idea of just how healthy these are, a single tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over cereal, yogurt or salad provides an easy 2.3 grams of fiber.

12 . Dark chocolate

Rejoice! You can eat chocolate every day, but just a small piece will do. Opt for varieties made up of over 70% cocoa to take advantage of the polyphenols and flavanoids to help protect your heart from the damage caused by cholesterol.

13 . Blueberries

Blueberries provide powerful anti-oxidants called polyphenols that help protect the blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Also anthocyanins in berries have also been shown to protect against high blood pressure.