Six Foods Your Heart Will Love
There are many other steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease, and it’s easier than you might think. Simply adding more fish, fiber, vegetables, and nuts to your diet; drinking wine; and going for walks (that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?) can protect you from the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
These six rockstars of the heart-healthy pantry also happen to be some of our favorite ingredients. Do your heart a favor and enjoy some of our good-and-good-for-you American Heart Association® Heart-Check certified recipes as part of our Lean & Clean meal plan. These meals have been co-developed by our lead dietitian and executive chef, and are designed to help you manage your weight with nutrient-rich, great-tasting food. Don’t forget the wine.
If you’re looking for an excuse to get more beans on your plate, we’ve got a good one. A twenty-five-year-long study of more than 15,000 middle-aged men across the U.S., Europe, and Japan found that eating beans was associated with an eighty-two percent reduction in risk of death from heart disease. It turns out that beans contain a variety of heart-protective chemicals, which help lower the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.
The brassica family of vegetables—think broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips—is known for being heart-healthy because they’re packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, and fiber, but the star of the group is cabbage. Recently, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that consuming flavonoids can lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and that even relatively small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial.
You already know that greens are delicious, but we’ve got even more reasons to love them. Low in calories, packed with fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, and iron, dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and chard, also contain powerful phytochemicals, which can protect your heart.
The unsaturated fats in nuts help reduce bad cholesterol levels while helping to increase the good kind. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that eases blood flow. Studies show that people who regularly eat nuts have a thirty to fifty percent lower risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease.
Eating two or more servings of fish per week may reduce the risk of coronary disease by thirty percent. Fish—especially oily kinds such as salmon, sardines, and tuna—contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which can help lower blood pressure and prevent irregular heart rhythms.
There’s a reason the tomato has earned the nickname “love apple.” Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber, and a good source of lycopene, which prevents the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduces the amount of it in the blood.