With heart disease being one of the top killers for men and women alike, many individuals are seeking to eat a more nutritious, heart healthy diet. My husband and I both have a history of heart disease in our families, so choosing the foods that are best for your heart is of special personal interest to us. In this article, I will list what I consider to be the top ten heart healthy foods.
1. Quinoa – This South American whole grain is loaded with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals and is low in fat. This grain is regarded as virtually a perfect food, and I have been told that it is one of the best survivalist foods due to its nutritional content.
A great way to implement quinoa into your diet is to eat it for breakfast with honey or a little butter to taste. My youngest son and I usually eat a bowl of it every morning. Quinoa is also great when used in recipes that call for rice or when served with chicken or stir-fry.
2. Salmon – This fish has less total and saturated fat and cholesterol than other meats and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help to lower blood fats called triglycerides. I recommend purchasing the wild caught salmon if at all possible, because it has been suggested that the mercury levels in the wild caught fish are lower than those of the farm-raised.
Salmon is wonderful when baked with an olive oil, garlic, and herb marinade or when mixed into a salmon cake recipe. Also, you can grill salmon and serve it on a salad for a variation.
3. Vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes – These types of veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber, low in calories and fat, and contain certain substances that may assist in preventing cardiovascular disorders.
Carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes can all be used in a green salad, a stir fry, or a soup. They also are wonderful when they are served in a vegetable tray with a low-fat version of ranch dressing.
4. Lentils – These beans are little protein powerhouses; compared to other beans, they have the highest amount of protein per serving. They have little to no fat and no cholesterol and are loaded with dietary fiber.
These delicious legumes are fantastic in a soup or boiled and cooked with taco seasoning. They also make a yummy addition to a green salad.
5. Black or Kidney Beans – These beans are full of B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber. These heart-friendly morsels are delicious in a stew or in various kinds of dips.
6. Almonds – These tasty nuts are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and phytosterols which have been identified by the FDA as crucial to heart health.
Almonds go well in salads or trail mixes and are even scrumptious when eaten alone for a snack. You should use moderation in eating almonds because they are high in fat (even though it is polyunsaturated fat).
7. Oatmeal – This whole grain contains omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, calcium, and soluble fiber. It has long been regarded as a food that helps to lower blood cholesterol.
Oatmeal is delicious for breakfast when served with low-fat milk, soymilk, or honey. It can also be a part of your diet if used in a low-fat granola recipe.
8. Brown Rice – This yummy whole grain contains B-complex vitamins, dietary fiber, niacin, and magnesium. My family and I enjoy it with buffalo (a lean red meat alternative to beef), vegetable stir fry, or baked chicken. Brown rice is also delicious when flavored with Bragg’s Amino Acids – this is one of my kids’ favorite options.
9. Silk Soymilk – Silk soymilk contains soy protein and phytosterols, both of which have been identified by the FDA as necessary components for heart health. This soymilk is absolutely yummy and is great when utilized in smoothies and in recipes that call for milk. Silk soymilk comes in a number of different flavors that are wonderful even when consumed all by themselves. Try substituting soymilk for cow’s milk in your diet. You will be glad that you did.
10. Dark Chocolate – Many of us chocolate lovers are cheering at the development that chocolate really does have some health benefits for your heart. Many brands of dark chocolate contain a cocoa content 70% or higher. These are loaded with reservatrol and cocoa phenols as well as flavonoids which are important for heart health.
One way to get some dark chocolate into your diet without overdoing it is to buy a bar of the chocolate and divide it into seven pieces. Every day, you can have that one piece and look forward to having another one the next day. Remember that with chocolate, moderation is the key.
In addition to these top ten heart healthy foods, remember to include exercise into your daily routine. Every little bit of exercise helps. Eat well, exercise, and try to keep your stress level down. Your heart will thank you.
Jeanie Lerche Davis, “25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods“, Web MD.
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Heart-Healthy Diet: 7 steps to prevent heart disease“, Mayo Clinic.
“Silk Heart Health“, Silk Soymilk.