5 Heart Healthy Foods

When it comes to eating for good health, choosing foods for heart health should be at the top of your list. The heart is the organ that literally keeps us going – delivering nutrients, oxygen and disease fighters throughout the body.

According to the World Health Organization heart disease is the number one cause of death globally and more people die annually from heart disease than from any other cause.  They also state that 13% of all deaths can be attributed to raised blood pressure. Here in Canada, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, 1 in 3 women will die from heart disease.

With that, I want to share with you some simple foods that you can easily add to your diet on a regular basis to help prevent heart disease

Summer Berries

Think blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  These berries are some of our most powerful disease-fighting foods.  Blueberries and blackberries get their dark colours from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanins and are packed with heart-healthy fibre and vitamin C (also an antioxidant).  They can also help increase your good cholesterol (HDL), reduce blood pressure and have also been shown to promote good blood flow.

Good to know: do not wash your berries until you are ready to eat them, excess moisture during storage will hasten decay.

Ideas for use:  eat them by the bowl full, toss on salads, cereals or yogurt, and great in a smoothie.

Dark Chocolate

Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2 to 3 times weekly can help lower your blood pressure.  It also improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Dark chocolate is also very helpful is lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL)

Good to know:  this only applies to dark chocolate, I usually recommend at least 70% dark chocolate.

Ideas for use:  I think this is easy to figure out!

Spinach

Spinach is only one of two plant sources that are rich in co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the other is broccoli.  CoQ10 is vital for heart and muscle health.  Doctors often recommend patients to supplement with CoQ10 if you are using a statin drug, as statin drugs deplete CoQ10 from the body.  Spinach is also rich in potassium and folic acid, both used to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

Good to know:  organic is best, as with any leafy greens they tend to have high pesticide residue if grown conventionally.

Ideas for use:  in smoothies, spinach and berry salad, toss into soups or mixed in your omelette or throw on a pizza.

Nuts and Seeds

All nuts and seeds are great they are a great source of healthful proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.  Walnuts and ground flaxseeds are high in fibre and Omega 3s, which are very beneficial for the heart

Good to know:  always store nuts and seeds in the fridge, the oils are very delicate and can turn rancid if exposed to light, heat and air for too long.

Ideas for use:  in smoothies, on salads, on granola or eaten by the handful

Legumes

These beauties are loaded with protein, fibre, iron, folic acid and potassium and are virtually fat-free.  All of which benefits the heart by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels.  They have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Good to know:  To further reduce the gas-producing properties of beans, add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to the pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished.

Ideas for use:  hummus, salads, stews, chilli, the possibilities are endless!

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