Integrative Nutrition Blog

Five of the Best Heart-Healthy Foods

February 21, 2018

Image via Shutterstock. 

If you want to keep your heart in tip-top shape, your diet is a great place to start.

Here are five of our favorite heart-healthy foods.

Fish
A mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, research shows that consuming fish a few times a week can have a significant effect on the heart. Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are particularly good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy heart.

In fact, not only do omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing overall inflammation, but they also help support healthy cholesterol levels and keep arterial walls flexible, making a cardiac event less likely.

Ancient Grains
As excellent fiber sources, ancient grains are just what the doctor ordered to keep your heart happy and healthy. Fiber is important for digestive regularity but also essential to cardiac health because it helps keep cholesterol low and weight down – two major risk factors for heart disease.

Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diets (some don’t even get half the daily recommended 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men), but increasing ancient grains in the diet can help! Check out ancient grains like barley, millet, sorghum, and bulgur; brown rice and quinoa are also great high-fiber options.

Nuts
Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fats, which can lower inflammation in the heart and decrease the risk of disease and stroke.

Tree nuts, like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts, may help reduce the risk of heart disease by helping reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and even body weight. It may not seem like much, but even a handful of nuts can help reduce the risk. Try sprinkling nuts over salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and soups or blending them into nut butters.

Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are low in cost and easy to prepare. These heart-healthy foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even protein. Research shows that regularly eating beans and legumes may be a great way to keep a healthy weight and feel more satisfied with your diet, which may help reduce cravings and weight gain over time.

Replacing animal-based proteins with plant-based proteins, such as beans, a few times a week may help keep your heart healthy by lowering saturated fat in the diet. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 13 grams of saturated fat per day.

Vegetables
It may come as no surprise, but the more veggies you eat, the less likely you are to suffer from diet-related diseases, like obesity, some cancers, and heart disease. Vegetables offer tons of great vitamins and minerals to support proper heart function. In fact, leafy greens are not only a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds but also offer an impressive amount of calcium, a crucial nutrient for the heart to pump effectively.

If you’re looking to add more veggies to your diet, try blending them into a smoothie or soup. New trends like cauliflower rice and zoodles can also help bump up servings.

 

How do you enjoy your favorite heart-healthy foods? Please share below!

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