As we get older, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle becomes increasingly important. In order to maintain optimal health and wellness, we all need to make smart and informed nutritional choices. A healthy diet is a vital and integral part of any heart-healthy effort. Making some simple adjustments can go a long way toward protecting and improving your cardiovascular system. Incorporating heart-healthy food items into your diet is a great and easy way to improve your overall heart health.
In addition to adding healthy items into your diet, it’s also important to reduce your salt and fat intake. Luckily, there are plenty of food options that will improve your health and please your palate. Just because you choose to eat healthy doesn’t mean that it can’t be delicious. Here are 15 foods that will help improve the health of your heart:
1. Fish that is high in omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring or trout. If you don’t care for fish, consider an omega-3 supplement.
2. Healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts will satisfy your hunger and improve your heart health.
3. Berries are chock-full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. Try blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries in cereal or yogurt.
4. Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestrogens to boost heart health. To reap the greatest health benefit, take them in ground or milled form. Sprinkle them on your cereal or salad, blend them into your smoothies or stir them into soup!
5. Oatmeal is the comfort-food nutrient powerhouse. For best results, stay away from instant oatmeal, as it is often full of sugar.
6. Dark beans, such as kidney or black beans are high in fiber, B-vitamins, minerals and tons of other good stuff. Veggie chili, anyone?
7. Red wine can help improve good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Doctors recommended having a 4 oz. glass of red wine a day (up to two for men and one for women per day). Now that’s just what the doctor ordered!
8. Tofu can make any meal good for your heart. Try marinated tofu in a stir-fry with fresh veggies for a heart-healthy lunch or dinner.
9. Brightly colored veggies are packed with carotenoids, fiber and vitamins to help your heart. Think red, orange and yellow veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and acorn squash.
10. Spinach packs a heck of a nutritious punch! Use it in sandwiches and salads instead of lettuce.
11. Fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
12. Asparagus is filled with mighty nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate and fiber. And it will only set you back 25 calories per cup, or 5 calories per large spear.
13. Tomatoes provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene. During the winter months, sun-dried varieties will do the trick.
14. Dark chocolate is good for your heart, so there is no guilt involved when you enjoy this sweet treat. In order to make the most of it, make sure it’s at least 70% cocoa.
15. Fresh broccoli florets dipped in hummus are a terrific heart-healthy snack.
A healthy diet is the key to keeping you healthy and improving the way you think and feel. In addition to helping to maintain a healthy heart, healthy eating habits will help you to feel better, sharpen your mind and may even help you live longer. It may even have the added benefit of whittling your waistline! I want to encourage everyone to try and incorporate more of these items into their daily diet. It’s never too late to start eating right!