Thursday, March 10, 2011

7 Foods That Should Be on Your Heart-Healthy Checklist


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. (And check out the other four superfoods here.)

Omega-3 Fats
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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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