Leafy Green Veggies
Many of these vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Green veggies have vitamin K, which prevents blood clotting in the arteries. Doctors recommend eating vegetables like spinach and kale since they are high in nitrates, which studies have determined to reduce blood pressure and improve cell function in blood vessels. Green vegetables were shown to lower your risk of heart disease, with studies showing a 16% decrease of heart disease the higher your leafy vegetable intake.
If you are a pasta fan, do not fear! You don’t have to stop eating pasta in order to keep your heart healthy; switch to whole grain pasta!
Whole grains, such as farro, quinoa and barley, are a great source of fiber and help regulate blood pressure. Fiber reduces LDL, which is the bad cholesterol that leads to heart complications. Many studies show that eating three more daily servings of whole grains was associated with a 22% lower risk of heart disease.
These tasty fruits are full of antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that cause heart disease. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries improve cell function in the blood vessels, decrease blood clotting and reduce LDL cholesterol. Berries are delicious snacks, and you can easily incorporate them into any dish. Throw them on top of some pancakes, granola, or just snack on them and reap the benefits!
Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are healthy fats that decrease heart rhythm disorders and lower triglycerides and blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends about two servings of salmon or other fish rich in fats each week. If you can’t eat that much fish, try taking fish oil daily. It has the Omega-3 you need to decrease your risk of heart disease and keep your heart healthy!
Are you looking for something to snack on? Nuts are a great snack due to their nutritional value! They’re great sources of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Studies show that eating about 1.5 ounces of daily almonds can reduce belly fat. Walnuts are also full of fiber and magnesium, copper and manganese, and eating them reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 16% and lowers blood pressure.
The bottom line is that nuts are both heart-healthy and delicious!
Chocolate? You may be surprised, but dark chocolate is a healthy snack that can boost your heart health. Studies show that eating dark chocolate twice a week can have a 32% decrease in calcified plaque clotting arteries, while eating dark chocolate five times a week have a 57% decrease in heart disease. So if you were looking for another excuse for a sweet treat throughout the day, here’s a heart-healthy snack for you.
Beans, peas and lentils are filling foods that do not contain cholesterol, making them a heart-healthy choice. Legumes have folate, iron, antioxidants and magnesium, which help lower blood pressure, and are rich in fiber which decreases blood sugar levels and rids the body of toxins and cholesterol. Try beans paired with whole grain rice for your next delicious meal that will make your heart happy!
A Parting Reminder
Next time you walk into your kitchen uncertain about what to snack on, make a heart-healthy choice. Try to eat nuts, green leafy veggies, chocolate or berries when you want a snack. If you’re looking to make a meal, try to eat fish, beans and whole grains. These healthy choices will ensure a strong heart and a healthier version of you!