With American Heart Month right around the corner (February), we have you covered with some foods to keep your most important muscle strong:
- Blueberries (OptUP Score: 88): Fresh or frozen, these little blue pearls are berry special. Blueberries have been specifically studied for their polyphenol “anthocyanin” content, which may reduce inflammation and help manage blood pressure. Give pancakes, whole-wheat muffins, salads, or yogurts some TLC with a blueberry boost!
- Oats (OptUP Score: 100): You “oat” to be having more oats! Of course a whole grain made the list and one of our top picks is oats. Oats have a whopping 4 grams of fiber per ½ cup. The soluble “beta-glucan” fibers in oats give us an added layer of protection by reducing cholesterol and lending a hand in improving blood sugars. Although classically made into a hot breakfast cereal or cookies, oats have evolved to much more. Try them in a homemade granola, smoothie, soup, or fruit crisp.
- Avocado (OptUP Score: 100): Avocados are not just having a moment, but more like a half-decade. Loved for its striking green color, availability year-round thanks to Mexican climates, and creaminess it imparts on everything it touches, this fruit (yes, fruit!) builds up our defenses against heart disease. The calories in avocadoes are mostly monounsaturated fats and research shows that replacing saturated fats (think butter and cream) with unsaturated fats lowers our cholesterol. We can [avocado] toast to that!
- Garbanzo beans (OptUP Score: 94): Another versatile food, garbanzo beans (or by their alias: chickpeas) are working hard to protect our heart. Garbanzos contain plant sterols to combat high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. Make it a “ ½ cup habit” by subbing in hummus for mayo or adding ½ cup cooked garbanzo beans into your next grain bowl. And these beans don’t stop there. The liquid or “aquafaba” from a can of chickpeas can be whipped into an egg alternative for a mousse and tiramisu.
- Brussels sprouts (OptUP Score: 96): Regarded when we were younger as a sinister veggie on our plates, Brussels sprouts are making a comeback. Caught in action as a standalone crispy appetizer at fine dining establishments, mixed into crunchy slaws, or in hashes for brunching, Brussels bring the party. These mini cabbages kick it in-gear with 3 grams of fiber and 120% Daily Value of Vitamin C (a potent antioxidant which may prevent or delay heart disease) per cup.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.