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Friday, February 8, 2013

The Best Food for Your Healthy Heart

Oatmeal
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, foliate and potassium. This fiber-rich super-food can lower the levels of bad cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties which contain more fiber and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.

Salmon
Super rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to 1/3.
"Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant," says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of "Lower Your Blood Pressure in Eight Weeks". But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides and heavy metals.
Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.

Avocado
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to up the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet.
Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.
"Avocados are awesome," says Dr. Sinatra.
"They allow the absorption of other carotenoids, especially beta-carotene and lycopene, which are essential for the health of the heart."

Olive Oil
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra virgin or virgin varieties, they are the least processed, and use them instead of butter when cooking.

Nuts
Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, along with almonds and macadamia nuts that are loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra.
"And like olive oil, they are a great source of health fat."

Berries
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and whatever berry you like best are full of anti-inflammatory enzymes, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
"Blackberries and blueberries are especially great," says Dr. Sinatra.
"But all berries are great for your vascular health."

Legumes
Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans. They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber.

Spinach
Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape because it stores a lot of lutein, foliate, potassium and fiber. But increasing your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost.

The Physician's Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least 2 1/2 servings of vegetables each day can cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn't eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduces the risk by another 17%.

Flaxseed
Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkle of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart healthy breakfast.

Soy
Soy may lower cholesterol and since it is low in saturated fat, it is still a great source of lean protein in a heart healthy diet. Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh or organic silken tofu. Also, soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or wholegrain cereal.
But, watch the amount of salt in your soy. There are other processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.

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