If you’re searching for heart healthy foods, you will find there plenty of options to choose from. Some of them are confusing or hard to follow. Our plan is to simplify things for you. Here are some easy to incorporate foods that can improve your nutrient intake, improve your heart health and improve your overall health.
Eat More Grapes, Raisins and Prunes
It’s easy to add a handful of grapes or raisins to any meal. Fresh seeded grapes may be the best choice because of all the different nutrients in the skin and the seeds but raisins are a good choice too, as long as you pay attention to the serving size. If you compare the nutritional value of a half cup of raisins to a half cup of grapes, you find that raisins have three times more heart healthy antioxidants.
Antioxidants in the bloodstream help to prevent the oxidation of fats that can lead to high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. On the other hand, a half cup of raisins has about 8 times as many calories as the same serving of grapes. If you are watching your weight, you’ll want to choose grapes more often than raisins. The high water content of grapes can help to fill you up. But, anytime that you can substitute grapes or raisins for a high calorie treat that is low in nutritional value you are doing something good for your heart.
Prunes are also a good choice, according to popular cardiologist Dr. Oz, because the fiber soaks up “bad” LDL cholesterol and also because prunes (which are actually dried plums) contain potassium, a mineral essential for normal blood pressure.
Try Some Traditional Asian Cuisine
Traditional Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisines make use of fermented soy foods such as soy sauce, miso and fermented black soybeans. Fungi in the aspergillus family are used in the fermentation process. Research indicates that these fungal enzymes are sources of antioxidants similar to those found in grapes and may be beneficial for the prevention of heart disease. Because of the research, the enzymes are included in some of the better circulation supporting supplements.
The traditional Asian cuisines are rich in fish, vegetables and brown rice, a whole grain that is also one of the heart healthy foods. Whole grains provide soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol naturally. So, try some Japanese recipes. You’ll enjoy the flavors while possibly reducing your risk of heart disease.
Use Curry to Spice up Your Chicken
Curry powder contains turmeric and a variety of other spices. The spice combination is perfect for poultry, as well as other foods. As you probably know, lean chicken is one of the staple foods in most heart-healthy eating plans. But chicken breasts can get boring. Chicken dishes flavored with curry powder are never boring. Plus, there is a heart-healthy benefit associated with turmeric.
Turmeric contains an antioxidant called Curcumin. Many studies have been done concerning the health benefits of that antioxidant. The health benefits are believed to include reduced inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels, reduced risk of coronary thrombosis (a common cause of heart attacks) and lower cholesterol.
Drink Some Green Tea Everyday
Green tea leaves contain unique antioxidants called catechins that have been used in a variety of scientific studies to improve heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Tea catechins may also reduce your risk of blood clots and act to protect against plaque formation in the arteries.
Another benefit of green tea may be a reduced risk of certain kinds of cancer. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, you can always take a supplement. There are many on the market.
Eat a Serving of Spinach
Spinach is another one of the heart healthy foods, a rich source of magnesium which helps to lower blood pressure and may reduce your risk of heart attack according to Dr. Oz. Other dark leafy greens are good choices too, because of the antioxidants they contain.
Snack on Popcorn
The fiber in popcorn helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which is also important for heart health and the prevention of type II diabetes. Popcorn is also a low calorie snack that fills you up and keeps you busy while you are watching your favorite TV shows.
Some General Heart Healthy Foods Tips
1. You should try to stay away from the trans fats and hydrogenated oils found in processed and refined foods. Margarines and spreads have trans fats, as do fried and fast foods. Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are chemically altered, and as such the body is not able to process them and they can be dangerous.
2. Try to reduce your sugar intake from snacks, cakes, candy bars, etc. as these sugars eventually become fat buildup in the body. Also, try to keep your simple carbohydrate intake at a minimum (pasta, potatoes, breads) as excess carbohydrates stimulate the production of triglycerides (fat) which are one of the four indicators of heart disease.
3. Healthy heart recipes should include extra virgin olive oil and garlic – both have been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
4. Add Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet, especially DHA and EPA found in fish oil. These two important Omega 3 fatty acids are the most therapeutic, and can significantly decrease bad cholesterol(LDL) as well as raise good cholesterol(HDL).
Hopefully, these simple suggestions will help you improve your heart health. We believe that you can eat your way to good health just by making the right food choices.