Taking care of your health should be a top priority, and diet is one way to help keep your body in good shape. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body so it is essential to keep it healthy and strong.
Certain foods are better at boosting heart health than others. Incorporating these foods into your daily diet can help get you on your way to preventing heart disease. When choosing foods from the given categories, I’d suggest always choosing organic when the option is available.
Raw seeds pack a nutritional punch, delivering nutrients like fiber, protein, various vitamins and minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Some of the best seeds to eat are flax, hemp, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and quinoa. Sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds can be eaten as is, or they can be lightly roasted with a sprinkle of sea salt or other seasonings. Flax, chia and hemp seeds can also be eaten as is, mixed into a variety of different foods, such as omelets, smoothies, salads, cereal or yogurt. Quinoa, often confused for a grain, needs to be cooked according to package directions. Use quinoa as you would rice or pasta.
Raw nuts also cram a significant amount of nutrition into a small portion. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans and brazil nuts offer protein, vitamins, antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Munch on the nuts raw or lightly roast them in the oven with a sprinkle of sea salt or other seasonings. Add them to salads, stir-frys, pasta dishes or mixed in with vegetables. Keep an eye on your serving size since nuts pack a caloric wallop.
It goes without saying that vegetables are good for you, but certain vegetables rank higher when it comes to helping your heart. Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, garlic, onions, leeks, potatoes, squash and dark leafy greens such as spinach, mustard greens and kale, contribute nutrition aimed at your heart. Eat your vegetables raw or slightly warmed, as in steaming or a quick sauté. Your vegetables should still have crunch to them, preserving the nutrients they offer.
Fruits, like vegetables, are not just good for you, they can also help prevent heart disease. Choose fruits such as tomatoes, apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, peaches, olives and avocados to give your heart the best help. For optimum nutrition, eat fresh fruit raw before choosing canned or frozen fruit, or ready-made juice. If you are not a fan of biting into fruit, try blending it into a smoothie instead.
Whole grains offer various vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fiber. They literally contain the whole grain kernel, which is why they are nutrient-dense.
Pick from whole grains such as whole wheat couscous, whole oats (not processed, quick oats), brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat bread or pasta, whole wheat bulgur and whole grain barley. Create a truly heart-healthy meal using brown rice or whole grain pasta as your base, load it with steamed vegetables and a small handful of raw nuts.
Give your heart a healthy boost with fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, lake trout or herring. The omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to your heart and fish are loaded with protein. Though fish should be eaten in moderation due to environmental contaminants, choosing fish that have been caught in the wild lower that risk. Prepare fish in a variety of ways such as grilling, baking or pan searing. Serve fish with other heart-healthy foods like vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
Legumes are nutritionally packed with vitamins and minerals good for your heart. Choose from black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans and lentils to help prevent heart disease. Buy dried beans or beans that are canned without salt.
Add legumes to almost any dish and season as you would vegetables. Toss legumes into soups, stews or make a vegetarian chili. Mash lentils or black beans to make a heart-healthy dip, or throw some legumes on your salad.
The body needs fats to function properly; it just needs the right fats. The fats offered in nuts and fish are great for the heart but a couple of oils also make the list. Use extra virgin olive oil to dress up your finished meals, such as salads or pasta dishes, or drizzle over fish. Sauté your vegetables in virgin coconut oil, which has medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids break down quickly and are easily digested. Use coconut oil instead of butter, but use it as sparingly as you would any fat.