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5 Foods to Eat for a Healthy Heart
Start American Heart Health Month off right by filling your plate with these colorful foods. By Stephanie Early Green
Comments () | Published February 7, 2012

The basics of having a healthy heart are pretty simple: exercise, don’t smoke, and avoid trans-fat- and sodium-rich foods. Eating a wide range of foods can also boost vascular health, says registered dietitian Stephanie Mull. Try to “eat from the rainbow”—vary your diet by including a number of colorful fruits, vegetables, and other foods in your diet.

Incorporating these five foods into your diet will help keep your heart strong and improve overall health. For tips on serving sizes, visit the website Choose My Plate, which allows you to enter your age, weight, and height to determine how much of each food group you should be eating.

Fatty Fish

Why: Fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, and sardines, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of heart arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats. As local registered dietitian Cheryl Harris notes, omega-3 fatty acids are also “anti-inflammatory and may help with conditions from high triglycerides, rheumatoid arthritis, macular eye degeneration, high blood pressure, [and] depression.” The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish per week.

Blueberries

Why: It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily, and these berries are ahead of the curve. “Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that can reduce cell damage and have been shown to help prevent some cancers,” explains Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietitian specializing in healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She recommends using fresh or frozen blueberries fresh in smoothies, parfaits, or oatmeal.
Also try: Spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots

Chia seeds

Why: In addition to fiber and antioxidants, these seeds “provide a ton of omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation of blood vessels, raise HDL, and lower LDL cholesterol,” explains Scritchfield. Chia seeds also contain mood-boosting properties, helpful during the dark winter months. Sprinkle two tablespoons of them onto a salad, stir into yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.
Also try: Flax seeds

Dark Chocolate

Why: This delicious treat contains phytochemicals, which “have many heart-protective effects,” Mull notes. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants, which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and protect cells from environmental damage.
Also try: Acai berries, cumin, dill, black and green tea, soy, and cranberries

Almonds

Why: These nuts are a “nutrient-dense food,” explains Mull. “Consuming them gives you omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and heart-protective monounsaturated fatty acids.” Keep in mind that nuts are high in fat, so portions should be controlled for weight management. Try raw almonds slivered over yogurt or cereal.
Also try: Walnuts

Photographs courtesy of Flickr users Marjin de Vries Hoogerwerff, little blue hen, Chocolate Reviews, HealthAliciousNess, and snowpea&bokchoi.

 

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  • It's amazing to think that one type of fat can kill you while another can literally save your life. I guess I'm adding more salmon and tuna to my diet.

  • Here are some of the food supplements that are more beneficial if we considering heart health. So if possible, you have to consume some of them everyday.

  • heart health supplements

    As you all know that proper function of the human heart makes you alive. There are certain things that you have to eat for the healthy heart. These foods are really improves your heart health.

  • Fatty fish which have not cholesterol ratio in high position can be used for the heart so need such type the diet must be take just to strong the heart walls to avoid the risk minimizing.

  • Eat 4 to 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. These foods are not only low in calories but they also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that are essential to a healthy heart. If you feel that your diet leaves you lacking in some essential nutrients consider supplementation as an alternative.

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Posted at 12:38 PM/ET, 02/07/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs