Heart disease is the leading
cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 4
deaths. While this statistic is staggering, the
good news is that heart disease can often be prevented by making healthy
lifestyle choices, especially in what we eat.
Here are nine simple — and
healthy — foods to help you improve your heart health.
- Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal.
Oatmeal is good for the heart
as it is rich in soluble fiber to help reduce cholesterol levels, and it
contains magnesium and potassium, which can contribute to a healthy heartbeat.
- Top your oatmeal with sliced banana.
While you’re at it, why not
add some banana to your oatmeal? Bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals,
especially heart-healthy potassium. They are also relatively low in calories
and high in fiber to help maintain a healthy weight.
- Include a bean soup for lunch.
Like oatmeal, beans contain
soluble fiber to lower cholesterol. Lentil and split pea soup are great choices
because they are filling and help keep you satisfied.
- Snack on a handful of mixed nuts.
Nuts contain heart-healthy
unsaturated fats and have been shown
to reduce heart disease deaths in
seniors. Nuts also help to control weight. The key is to practice portion control. Aim for approximately ¼
cup or a single layer in your palm.
- Start your dinner with a colorful
Starting your meal with a
colorful salad is a great way to boost heart healthy nutrients in your diet.
Vegetable salads are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are low in
calories. Be sure to make your salad as colorful as possible with a variety of
vegetables for the best benefits.
- Use olive oil.
Olive oil contains
heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Choose olive-oil-based dressings over creamy
varieties like blue cheese. However, it’s important not to over-pour. Just add 1-2 tablespoons of dressing.
- Enjoy grilled salmon or arctic char as
your main course.
Fatty fish contain omega-3
fatty acids which are known to be good for the heart. Add flavor by grilling
your fish with your favorite spices and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Have cauliflower as a side dish.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, a cousin to
broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which are high in fiber and low in calories. It
is also an excellent, low-calorie source of potassium with one cup of chopped
raw cauliflower containing 320 mg of potassium in only 27 calories.
- Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
We saved the best for last.
Research shows that people who eat dark
chocolate have lower rates of heart
disease than people who do not. Chocolate contains flavonols - phytochemicals
which may reduce heart disease risk. Just remember that amounts count and aim
for one small square.