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7 Foods to Eat for Better Heart Health

2/10/2011 1:47:00 PM

Tags: natural health, heart health, cholesterol, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, fiber, folate, potassium, antioxidants, lutein, magnesium, calcium, omega 3, omega 3 fatty acids, avocado, lutein, fat, EPA, DHA, inflammation, vitamin C, beta-carotene, spinach, soy

Diet is important when it comes to heart health. What you eat affects your cholesterol , blood pressure and overall heart health—so make sure you’re eating the right stuff! These seven foods have been shown to be loaded with fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats and other nutrients that nourish and protect the heart.

1. Avocado 

Avocados are rich in a healthy, monounsatured fat called oleic acid that helps lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Avocados also contain high amounts of potassium and folate, which can regulate blood pressure and help prevent heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.

Try This: Open-Faced Tofu Lettuce Tomato Sandwich with Chunky Guacamole 

oatmeal with banana and pecans 
Topping your oatmeal with fruit and nuts makes for a heart-healthy breakfast. Photo By Dave Fayram/Courtesy Flickr. 

2. Salmon 

Salmon and other cold-water fish such as halibut, cod, sardines and mackerel contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These polyunsaturated fats are anti-inflammatory and help prevent clotting and blockage of the arteries. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of cold-water fish a week.

Try This: Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian 

3. Seeds and Nuts 

Seeds and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats. Nuts and seeds also contain high amounts of fiber, which helps remove extra cholesterol from the body and reduce inflammation, a risk factor associated with developing heart disease.

Try This: Hungry? Snack on a handful of walnuts or almonds for heart-healthy boost.

Blueberries contain antioxidants that promote good heart health. Photo By Mr. T in D.C./Courtesy Flickr. 

4. Berries 

Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries (and your other favorites!) contain disease-fighting antioxidants such as anthocyanins (found in blueberries), beta-carotene and lutein. Berries are also high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C, all of which contribute to good heart health.

Try This: Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins; Cod with Warm Blueberry-Mango Salsa 

5. Oatmeal  

Ever notice how many hearts dot your canister of oatmeal? That’s because oatmeal promotes good heart health! A steaming bowl of oats every morning provides omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate and other important nutrients that can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Try This: Sprinkle hemp seeds or flaxseeds over your oatmeal and top with fresh blueberries for a heart-healthy breakfast. Or try this recipe for Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Walnuts.

spinach on cutting board 
Spinach contains high amounts of heart-healthy nutrients such as folate, magnesium and lutein. Photo By Susy Morris/Courtesy Flickr. 

6. Spinach 

Take a leaf out of Popeye’s book and stock up on spinach. This vegetable’s dark color comes from its rich stores of lutein, folate, magnesium, potassium and iron, which help protect against heart disease.

Try This: Spinach Salad with Garlic Dressing 

7. Soy 

High in protein but low in saturated fats, soy contains fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats that make it a great part of a heart-healthy diet.

Try This: Tofu Breakfast Scramble 

Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on .

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