It is projected that by 2030, more than 40% of the US adult population will have some form of cardiovascular disease (1). Thankfully, a healthy diet and lifestyle are strong weapons to fight it! It’s no secret that a diet high in fruit and vegetable intake can lower your risk of heart disease — But, let’s get a little more specific. Here’s a look at 5 foods that work hard to support your heart.
Leafy green vegetables have a great reputation for overall health, but there has been more recent interest in how they can benefit cardiovascular health. Phylloquinone, the major dietary source of vitamin K, is found abundantly in dark-green leafy vegetables and has been shown to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease (2).
Here are a few ideas to get your greens in each day:
- Add a handful of spinach to your smoothie (You probably won’t even taste it!)
- Swap your next rice-based burrito bowl for a greens-based taco salad
- Try our Spirulina supplement!
- Stir a cup of kale into a soup or stew during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking
Whole grains are a great source of nutrients that play a role in supporting heart health and include fiber, B vitamins, and some trace minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. The recommendation in the US and Canada is that all adults eat at least half of their grains as whole grains (that’s at least 3 servings per day of whole grains).
Here are some examples of whole grains you can try incorporating into your diet.
- Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread
- High-fiber cereal with 5 g or more fiber in a serving
- Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat
- Whole-grain pasta
- Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
Heart-healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease by lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides and increasing good HDL cholesterol. These fats also provide essential fatty acids your body needs but can’t produce.
Try incorporating these healthy fats into your diet:
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna)
- Omega-3 and DHA supplements
- Nuts, seeds (Walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds)
- Avocado – try it on toast, on top or your salad, or in a smoothie!
Berries pack a punch when it comes to nutrients and antioxidants! Anthocyanin-rich berries have demonstrated a variety of benefits to human health, including reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to heart disease (3).
Here are some tips to boost your berry intake:
- Add a handful of blueberries into your morning oatmeal
- Throw some frozen mixed berries into your smoothie
- Toss them into your whole-grain pancake batter or on top of your waffle
- Make a them a sweet addition to your next salad
Beans and legumes have been gaining attention as an important part of a healthy diet for many reasons – they are high in fiber and several beneficial micronutrients and phytochemicals. Studies are now showing that they may protect against coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation (4).
Here are some delicious ways to add more beans into your diet:
- Try adding white beans into your pesto pasta
- Prepare a soup or stew that features beans/legumes
- Toss them into your salad
- Add hummus to an egg sandwich or avocado toast!
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