5 Delicious, Heart-Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

5 Delicious, Heart-Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

BY: Jessica Dogurt| Registered Dietitian

We can’t stress the importance of a healthy diet enough. What you are consuming is affecting your overall health, both in the short and long-term. An unhealthy diet can lead to diabetes, poor circulation (see more here), obesity, hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, many cancers and heart disease. Did you know that cardiovascular disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to statistics from the Heart Foundation. You can support the health of your heart by using some of the supplements offered by Vita Health too.

Poor nutrition is all too common in the United States. In a 2012 study, 52 percent of Americans believed doing their taxes was easier than figuring out how to eat healthy. This may be the reason that both U.S. women and men tend to consume an increased amount of salts and fats with decreased amounts of fruits and veggies in their diet. The level of healthiness of foods that we consume decreases by 1.7 percent for every hour that passes in the day. But when you know which foods to incorporate into your diet, you have the knowledge to make smart nutritional decisions for yourself and your family.

With cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s safe to say that we should all make more of an effort to show our hearts some love and attention.

And if you want your ticker in tip-top shape, what you savor can make all the difference.

So what exactly should you eat?

Try incorporating these heart-healthy foods into your diet for a happy, healthy heart:

Salmon

salmon heart healthy meal

Go fish!

Salmon contains EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for a heart-healthy diet. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends Americans consume two servings of fatty fish (each at least 3.5 oz.) per week to reap the wonderful benefits omega-3s have to offer. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with lowering triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and reducing risk of arrhythmias. Definitely a triple threat to help keep heart disease at bay!

Healthy Eating Tip:

Not a fish fan? No worries – there are several plant-based sources of omega-3s to enjoy, including chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.

Nuts

nuts heart healthy foods pistachios

Here’s some motivation to munch on nuts: According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, devoted nut eaters are 25% less likely to die from heart disease.

Besides being an excellent sources of protein, tree nuts provide several essential nutrients your heart craves, including arginine, an amino acid that aids in relaxing blood vessels and easing blood flow. In addition, the nourishing unsaturated fats found in nuts can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost HDL (good) cholesterol.

Healthy Eating Tip:

Savor nuts in a salad to fulfill a crunch craving or dip apple slices in cashew butter.

Apples

apples heart healthy food

You know the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away“?

Well, this is certainly true due to the impressive amount of soluble fiber found in apples. Not only does one medium crisp apple contain 4.4 grams of heart-smart fiber, but an apple a day can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 40 percent!

And if you need another reason to get your fiber on, for every 10 grams of fiber consumed per day, the risk of dying from heart disease decreases by 27%.

Healthy Eating Tip:

Make an apple a day a healthy habit or indulge in other sources of soluble fiber (beans, broccoli, oats, oranges, and flax) to gain the bountiful benefits.

Beans

heart healthy food beans

Jump on the bean bandwagon because these magical fruits pack a nutritional punch when it comes to heart health.

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They are sky-high in fiber and a perfect stand-in for animal protein. Those who consume legumes on a daily basis have a 22% lower risk of developing heart disease than people who solemnly do.

Beans also contain heart-smart nutrients such as folate. For paradigm, one cup of garbanzo beans contains 70% of ones daily folate needs (a vitamin that helps to reduce blood homocysteine – a biomarker for heart disease).

Healthy Eating Tip:

Use hummus as a creamy condiment in potato or egg salads or health-ify your desserts by adding black beans to brownies.

Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate good for your heart

As if you even needed a reason to indulge in decadent dark chocolate, here are three:

  1. The flavonoids in cacao upkeep a healthy blood circulation, allowing arteries to stay supple.
  2. The polyphenols in cacao build an army to oxidative stress (which – when uncontrolled – can lead to inflammation and atherosclerosis.)
  3. Cacao is a good source of magnesium, a mighty mineral essential for normal heart function.

Disclaimer: Not all chocolate is created equal, so be sure to eat only a moderate 1 oz. portion per day that’s at least 70% cacao.

Healthy Eating Tip:

Add raw organic cacao powder to a morning green smoothie, or smear 1 tsp. of almond butter on a 1 oz. square as a conscious indulgence.

Some more food for thought

In addition to a heart-healthy diet, make your lifestyle more healthy by getting enough sleep, stressing less and exercising more. We also recommend having a look at cannabidiol oil which helps prevent heart disease, and ensures joints keep working as you get older. Just as importantly, you need to fuel your body with nourishing superfoods and nutrients, such as wholesome fiber, lean proteins, produce, and heart-healthy fats.

Remember, you only get one heart, so this vital organ is definitely worth the upkeep!

Cover Image: D. Williams

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