The month of love has arrived and so has American Heart Health Month! Surprisingly enough, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. The good news—consuming heart smart foods can lower your risk of developing this condition. In other words, using food as a preventative form of medicine can be beneficial for your health in the long run, which is a huge plus! Our heart is a vital organ that beats over a hundred thousand times a day while pumping oxygenated blood to all other organs. It’s the main operator or “driver of the ship”, so nourishing it appropriately will help guide us to a healthy path. Here are five foods to consume for a healthy heart:
Avocados (OptUP score: 100)
Avocados are called a superfood for good reason—they’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels (HDL). Additionally, avocados contain phytosterols which, in some studies, have contributed to lowering the absorption of cholesterol in the body. And yes, managing your cholesterol levels is just one factor in maintaining a healthy heart. All the richness that these healthy fats provide contribute to the bioavailability (how well a nutrient is absorbed) of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Anything that boosts the nutrition of another is always a good food to incorporate.
Chia Seeds (OptUP score: 100)
These little guys are small but certainly mighty! It’s amazing to know that each seed is packed with fiber, iron, omega-3’s, and calcium. Many of these nutrients have shown some benefit to heart health but let’s focus on fiber for now. The fiber found in chia seeds is soluble fiber which is gel-like and spongy. This type of fiber may help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and slow digestion. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol found in the blood and excretes the excess as needed. Consuming adequate amounts of soluble fiber may assist in preventing atherosclerosis, a condition that clogs arteries.
Dark Leafy Greens (OptUP score: 90)
As a general rule, the darker the green the more nutrients the lettuce contains. Choosing spinach, kale, microgreens, or even collard greens are great choices for heart health because those dark leafy greens are high in potassium, a nutrient associated with lowering blood pressure levels. Vitamin K is another nutrient found in dark leafy greens that assists with blood clotting, further supporting a healthy heart. Add these to your omelet, your stir-fry, or even your pesto for a boost of nutrition.
Blueberries (OptUP score: 88)
Packed with antioxidants which combat free radicals or “foreign invaders” in the body, blueberries earn the title superfood. Their fiber and phytochemical content also play a role in supporting a healthy heart. Add these to your cereal, smoothie, or peanut butter toast to amplify your nutrition.
Fatty Fish (OptUP score: 86)
Salmon, tuna, and mackerel are just a few fatty fish that are high in omega-3’s, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause damage to the body and heart which may lead to heart disease. To prevent inflammation, the USDA recommends consuming two servings or 8 ounces of omega-3 rich fish a week. You can easily achieve this by utilizing the Easy for You seafood service at Kroger, a convenient way to bake fish in a foil bag with your favorite spices and herbs. Just place it in the oven and bake away.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.