Heart-Healthy Foods: 3 Foods That May Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND

Heart Health Nutrition
a year ago

Heart-Healthy Foods: 3 Foods That May Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease

February is Heart Health Month and an opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest health problems facing all Americans: heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. In fact, in the U.S., someone dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes for heart disease are complex and interconnected, including age, gender, heredity, previous medical history, obesity, stress and alcohol consumption, to name a few.

Fortunately, many of these deaths can be prevented with lifestyle changes including limited alcohol consumption, adequate sleep and maintaining a healthy body weight and healthy body composition with plenty of exercise and nutritious food. But what foods are considered the best for your heart?

Here’s a guide to foods you can buy and what to limit to keep your heart healthy:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: These are the foundation of a heart-healthy diet providing nutrients that are linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, including fiber, potassium, magnesium and phytonutrients. Avocados especially are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh but may contain added sugars or salt that can raise your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Limit canned fruits and vegetables unless they have no salt added and are reduced in sodium.
  2. Meats, Poultry, Fish and Plant-based Proteins: While lean meats and poultry are heart healthy, plant-based proteins and fish top the list. Fish is a prominent part of the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Beans, lentils, nuts and seeds are all excellent heart-healthy options. Avoid high-fat and processed meats like bacon, sausage and marbled cuts of beef and limit red meat.
  3. Grains: Whole grains are best as they contain fiber and phytonutrients which are shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Check the ingredients to make sure they list a whole grain like whole-wheat flour as their main ingredient. Oatmeal, quinoa, barley, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are all wonderful options. Limit white bread, pasta and rice as well as cereals with more than 5 grams of added sugar as they bring no nutritional value.

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Quinoa $3 & Up
Oatmeal $3 & Up
Barley $4 & Up
Brown Rice
Brown Rice $2 & Up

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I’m into the food as medicine concept for sure.
Elisa Schmitz
Thank you for the helpful insights. Heart month is a great time to take a look at food and exercise as it pertains to our hearts!

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