Cardiac Superfoods for a Healthy Heart
 
Featured in: General Health  |  May 23, 2017

Cardiac Superfoods Pack Nutritional Punch for a Healthy Heart

By Brittany Anas   |   Edited by Elena Doxey

Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle never tasted so good. By incorporating some of nature’s cardiac superfoods into your daily diet, you could be off to a great start for a healthy heart.

Avocados

This green berry (yes, that’s right, it’s a berry) is a fruit superfood that packs a nutritional punch strong enough to help keep your cardiac numbers in check. Research revealed avocados can significantly reduce your total cholesterol levels. These include blood fats like LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which can increase your chances of developing heart disease. And if that wasn’t enough, avocados contain more than twice the amount of potassium than bananas, are low in sodium, high in fiber, and are extremely low in sugar. Although they are high in fat, avocados contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats that help the body absorb other key nutrients. And don’t worry about “buying organic” for this fruit. Avocados have a thick outer skin that protects the inner flesh from pesticide residues. Just go easy on portion size, since avocados are also high in calories. One ounce (or one-fifth) of an avocado has about 50 calories.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate avocados into your diet:

  • Add to smoothies
  • Spread on toast instead of butter
  • Slice and eat with a splash of lemon and a dash of salt

Berries

Don’t let their size fool you. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are not only a sweet and colorful snack, but they are stocked with anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties that may decrease the risk of heart disease. In blueberries, for example, the anthocyanins protect against hypertension, or high blood pressure. Studies have found that eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women slash their chances of suffering a of heart attack by one-third! And since berries are a good source of fiber, they are can also help decrease cholesterol levels.

Here are some healthy ways to incorporate berries into your diet:

  • Add to smoothies (try our sunflower smoothie bowl!)
  • Mix into plain yogurt
  • Mix into hot or cold cereal
  • Try spreading them onto peanut butter as your “jelly” for a PB&J sandwich

Broccoli

Broccoli holds the lead for being among the most heart-healthy green vegetable in the garden. It has rich amounts of a compound called sulforaphane, which is known to essentially switch on a protein in the body to prevent plaque from clogging the arteries. Even more amazing is how broccoli can help the body’s ability to detoxify itself, and reduce the risk of cancer and obesity.

Although broccoli is typically served as a side dish, here are some other delicious ways to add this superfood to your diet:

  • Add to a breakfast frittata, along with heart-healthy tomatoes
  • Mix with pine nuts and olive oil and toss into whole-wheat pasta

Dark Chocolate

Can it be true? Yes, indulging in the decadence of dark chocolate can help enhance blood flow in the body, reducing the risk of stroke, and even assisting in maintaining blood sugar levels. It can also help restore flexibility in the arteries and help keep white blood cells from sticking to vessel walls. These are major benefits for keeping atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) at bay. Just be sure to buy chocolate that contains 70% cocao. And you’ll want to be cautious of your portion size, since one ounce of dark chocolate has about 155-170 calories. A half-ounce is just enough to get the benefits you need while also satisfying your sugar cravings.

Edamame

This green soybean superfood has become a fan favorite among those looking for a quick and healthy on-the-go snack, or an easy protein source to replace animal protein. Edamame, along with other soy foods, are rich in isoflavones, which are phytonutrients that can boost the functioning of arteries and veins.

Here are some ways to incorporate edamame into your diet:

Tomatoes

The debate over whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is over. The courts have decided that for customs regulations purposes, it is classified as a vegetable. From a botanical standpoint, however, it still falls in the fruit category. Either way, tomatoes remain a heart-healthy food, thanks to the antioxidant partner lycopene, which not only gives them their red hue, but packs a powerful punch in helping to reduce inflammation and lower LDL cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. And if you didn’t already know, eating cooked tomatoes is healthier than eating them raw. (Cooked tomatoes contain up to 2.5 times as much lycopene as raw tomatoes.)

Here are some ways to add tomatoes to your favorite recipes:

  • Add tomato paste to vegetable or chicken stock for added flavor and heart-healthy benefits
  • Use crushed tomatoes to top your pizza or pasta
  • Add roasted tomatoes to your quinoa
  • Experts suggest buying jars of crushed tomatoes instead of prepared tomato sauce, which may have added sugar and salt

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which has been shown to help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries, thus reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attacks. This nut also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation.

Eating 1/4 cup of walnuts meets most people’s nutritional requirement of omega-3s. Here are some other ways to add walnuts to your meals:

  • Add to oatmeal (try our apple pumpkin oatmeal)
  • Add to trail mix
  • Add to salads
  • Add to yogurt
  • Add to healthy baked goods for a nutritional power punch
  • Substitute walnuts for pine nuts in homemade pesto

Whether you incorporate one or all of these cardiac superfoods into your diet, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy heart. 

(Visited 1,064 times, 1 visits today)