Eating for a Healthy Heart
When it comes to reasons for eating well, heart health sits near the top of the list. It all starts with food shopping, of course—by filling your cart with heart-healthy foods at your co-op, you can help lower your risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Here's what to bring home.
These are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, including omega-3s. You'll find them in canola oil, olive oil, soybean oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed, and flaxseed oil. Fatty fish like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, salmon, and trout also have high omega-3 counts.
Smart protein sources
Low-fat proteins like skim or low-fat dairy products, legumes (like beans, peas, peanuts), skinless poultry, and lean meats will limit the amount of cholesterol you consume with your protein.
Foods that are high in soluble fiber can help lower your LDL ("bad" cholesterol). Beans and whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole-grain breads and pastas are good examples, but try others too, such as barley, amaranth, millet, and quinoa.
High-potassium foods like avocados, bananas, tomato products, raisins, and potatoes can help maintain healthy blood pressure.
Pass up or limit
Limit saturated fats, which are found in butter, fatty cuts of meat, whole-milk dairy products, and many sweets. And completely avoid trans fats, which are typically found in processed foods like packaged desserts, crackers, chips, and many stick margarines.
Some sodium is necessary, but too much can contribute to elevated blood pressure.
Fruit is a great way to help satisfy a sweet tooth while gaining nutritional benefits at the same time. When fruit doesn't do it, look for low fat, high fiber, "good" fat options to eat in moderation.
Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and damage your heart. No need to abstain completely, though; a glass of red wine now and then can help prevent the buildup of plaque that contributes to heart disease.
It’s never too early—or too late—to show some love for your heart. Start with your next shopping trip and head home from the co-op with heart-healthy choices in tow.