Picking the right healthy foods can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Your heart is a finely tuned machine. To keep it running in top form you need to give it heart healthy fuel. And that means you should choose a healthy diet. Some foods offer great heart benefits, but how do you choose?
More than 1 in 10 Americans has been diagnosed with heart disease. Picking the right healthy foods can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Here you will find 25 of the best foods to protect your heart and blood vessels. Learn the top nutrients that keep your heart beating at its best, along with menu suggestions to make these foods part of your daily meals.
SalmonSalmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), lower triglyceride levels, slow the growth of plaque in your arteries, and slightly lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of omega-3 rich foods like salmon each week. A serving size is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish.
Salmon is a versatile food. Grill it with a rub or marinade, chop some and add it to a pasta dish with fat free marinara sauce, or add it to your salads for a protein punch.
Farmed Vs. Wild Salmon
Does the way your salmon was raised influence its omega-3 contents? Many grocery stores now carry both farm-raised and wild-caught salmon. It turns out that farm-raised salmon tends to have more omega-3 fat, but also more total fat. Even though farmed salmon has more saturated fat, it is still about half the amount found in the same portion of flank steak.
Flaxseed (ground)Ground flaxseed is easy to incorporate into your diet.
Ground flaxseed also has omega-3’s, along with both soluble and insoluble fiber. It has one of the highest available sources of lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities.
Ground flaxseed is easy to incorporate into your diet and can be mixed into just about anything you normally eat. Sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal, on top of low fat yogurt, mix into muffins, or combine into your smoothies.
What About Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed oil is loaded with omega-3s, but they are the less effective type known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA needs special enzymes to be converted to omega-3, and these enzymes are found in your body in limited supply. This means that at most, you can expect about 15% of your flaxseed oil omega-3s to be converted into its most useful forms. So while you certainly do get some benefit, it may be less than your supplement label suggests.
OatmealOatmeal is a tasty breakfast food, and another good source of those omega-3 fatty acids.
Oatmeal is a tasty breakfast food, and another good source of those omega-3 fatty acids. And it is a fiber superstar, offering 4 grams in every one-cup serving. It also has nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Oatmeal is a filling breakfast, and you can top it with fresh berries for an even more heart-healthy meal. Try fat free oatmeal cookies, oat bread, or mix whole rolled oats into a turkey burger meatloaf.
Black or Kidney BeansBeans have lots of soluble fiber.
You know the schoolyard chant: “Beans, beans, good for your heart.” Turns out it’s true! Beans have lots of soluble fiber, B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, magnesium, calcium, and, you guessed it, omega-3 fatty acids.
Beans are so versatile. You can include them in soups, stews, or salads. Or make a meal out of them.
Try black beans on a whole-grain pita tostada with avocado, or combine them with corn kernels and onions to make stuffed bell peppers. Add canned kidney beans to a salad of cucumber, fresh corn, onions, and peppers, then toss with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Or bring black beans and kidney beans together for a delicious, nutritious vegetarian chili.
AlmondsNuts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol.
Nuts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. And for a heart-healthy nut, almonds make a great choice. They contain plant omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and heart-favorable monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds are so easy to eat – you can top your yogurt or salad with almond slivers, or snack on a healthy trail mix. You can also try them in cooking. Sprinkle them on a rice or quinoa dish, or spread them across some salmon for a nice crunch. Choose unsalted almonds for additional cardiac protection.
Just be sure your almonds are raw or dry roasted (rather than oil roasted), and keep portion sizes in mind. Though they are heart-healthy they are also high in fat, some of which is saturated fat. Like other nuts, almonds are dense with calories, and a little can go a long way. They are best eaten in moderation.