11 Foods to Munch on for a Healthy Heart

There are some foods that make us think our heart is happy (like lounging on the couch with a pint of ice cream) and then there are some that really do improve your heart's health. Check out the best foods you should be snacking on from celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson, B.A.Sc, RNCP.

By

Share

Omega-3 Fat

Also proven to reduce acne and inflammation, the omega-3 fatty acids found in things like salmon and walnuts are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and even a heart attack. Just by eating one to two servings a week you are lowering your blood pressure, boosting immunity, and even improving arthritis.

High Fiber Finds

Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are a one-way ticket to a healthy diet. By choosing grains over white refined foods (which are typically stripped of their iron and B-vitamins) you can lower your cholesterol and promote healthy heart function. Simpson recommends aiming to get 30g of fiber a day, but start slowly and be sure to drink lots of fluid as you increase your fiber intake to make it easier to ingest.

Oatmeal

A bowl of oatmeal in the morning will stock you up on omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and potassium. It's also proven to keep your arteries clear and lower your cholesterol.

Want glowing skin too? Nibble on these to get a flawless complexion.

Spices

Ginger, Green tea, cocoa, cayenne, and cinnamon aren't just yummy to sip on, Simpson says they also contain potent anti-inflammatory properties and help balance your blood sugar. Mix them into tea or your favorite foods to reap the healthy heart benefits.

Get brew happy and check out more benefits of sipping on tea.

Legumes

Another high fiber food, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans contain calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, checking off multiple boxes on your healthy heart food checklist.

Soy Protein

Soy, found in things like edamame and tofu are increasing in popularity for their role in lowering triglycerides (the chemical form which most fats exist in food as well as in your body) and decreasing cardiovascular disease. Simpson recommends soy because it's considered to be a high quality protein that contains fiber along with vitamins and minerals, giving you a well-rounded, healthy choice.

Blueberries

This deeply hued fruit is packed with antioxidants that help to boost your immune system and keep you healthy during cold season. They help to reduce your risk of heart disease and even cancer, not to mention they are yummy to nibble on!

Red Cabbage

All dark, leafy veggies contain immune-boosting properties, and that includes red cabbage. It reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and gives you your daily intake of antioxidants and vitamins. Not into eating leaves every day? Simpson says it's perfectly okay to enjoy the fried things in life (i.e. potato chips, bacon, etc.), just do it in strict moderation. Emphasis on the strict.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is quite a buzzword. You hear nutritionists and dieticians throw it around all the time, yet you're never really quite sure what it is. Basically, this seed contains alpha linolenic acids (ALA) which is a type of plant derived omega-3 fatty acid. Not only does it lower cholesterol and LDL levels, it keeps platelets from becoming sticky, which in turn reduces your risk of a heart attack. Grind them up and add them into a smoothie or mix in with your favorite foods to get in on the benefits of this superstar seed.

Fish Oil

Available in vitamin form (thank goodness), fish oil is a fast and easy way to stock up on your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. A high-quality oil will reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, lower triglyceride levels, and even help ease achy joints.

Lean Meats

Replacing processed meats with lean ones and swapping out your white flour favorites with whole wheat choices will greatly improve your heart health, Simpson says. In general, you should try to stick to a low cholesterol diet and limit your salt intake when preparing food. Simpson recommends instead of frying your food, boil, broil, bake, or steam roast meats and when cooking, use vegetable oil over butter and other fatty substitutes.

If you're shopping at the grocery store, check the labels! Start with the serving size then check the calories and calories from fat it contains. When looking at the fat content, steer clear from high amounts of saturated fat, trans fat cholesterol, and sodium. Simpson says an easy cheat sheet is to look at the quick guide on the label at the percent daily value. Anything 5 percent or less is considered low and 20 percent or more is too high.