February is American Heart Month. Diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart disease. Here are 9 heart healthy foods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Heart benefits: Dark leafy greens, for example, are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as the B-vitamins, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. In addition to other beneficial antioxidants, these greens are true superfoods for your heart.
Recipe to try: Harvest Kale Salad
Heart benefits: Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Many berries have proven benefits for heart health.
Recipe to try: Nutty Banana Berry Smoothie
Heart benefits: According to the American Heart Association (AHA), fiber from whole grains can help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Choose whole grains over refined and you’ll enjoy more filling fiber combined with all of the other natural elements of whole grain nutrition.
Recipe to try: Barley and Vegetable Ragout
The AHA recommends eating at least two servings of fish, particularly fatty fish, each week. Go for salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout or albacore tuna.
Heart benefits: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to help support heart health, especially when they replace saturated fat. Bonus: Four ounces of fish contains about 17 grams of filling, muscle-building protein.
Recipe to try: Grilled Salmon and Panzanella Salad
Beans and Legumes
Heart benefits: Eating beans may help improve your blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. This food group— which includes peas, soybeans, and lentils—can also help reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Nuts and Seeds
Heart benefits: Like with fish, nuts and seeds offer up omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have several heart-healthy effects such as reducing inflammation, and lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
Heart benefits: These fruits are a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats plus potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to good heart health.
Heart benefits: Tea is a good source of compounds called flavonoids that have been shown to support a healthy heart. Drinking two to three cups per day will help you reach the recommended 200-500 milligrams of flavonoids, also found in wine, cocoa, fruits, and vegetables. Teas keep their nutritional value throughout their shelf life—so check the manufacturer’s recommended serve-by date and you’ll be good to brew.
Heart benefits: Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids which are found in fruits, vegetables and tea (see above). Research suggests consuming more dietary flavonoids is linked to better heart health.
And for more resources on leading a healthy lifestyle, visit the AHA at heart.org.
All recipes courtesy of Aramark: Feed Your Potential 365.