The following is a list of foods that are heart-healthy and packed with nutrition your body needs:
- Fresh herbs: Herbs make many foods heart-healthy when they replace salt, sugar and trans-fats. These flavor powerhouses, along with nuts and berries fight heart disease, stroke, cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Black beans: Packed with heart-healthy nutrients including folate, antioxidants, magnesium and fiber--helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Red wine and resveratrol: If you drink alcohol, red wine is a healthy choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in wine protect artery walls. Don't exceed one drink a day for women or two for men.
- Walnuts: A small handful a day may lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in arteries. Walnuts are packed with omega-3's, monounsaturated fats and fiber. Be careful, a handful has nearly 300 calories..don't over do it.
- Almonds: Slivered almonds go well with vegetables and desserts--just a handful add heart healthy fats to your meals. They're chock full of plant sterols and fiber--almonds may help to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Edamame: Green soybeans are a tasty appetitzer. They're packed with soy protein which can lower triglycerides. A half a cup of edamame has 9 gr of fiber which mops up cholesterol.
- Sweet potatoes: Hearty, healthy substitute for white potoates--low on the glycemic index which means they won't cause a spike in blood sugar levels. They are packed with fiber, Vitamin A and lycopene.
- Oranges: Cholesterol fighting fiber in oranges is pectin--they also come loaded with potassium which helps control blood pressure.
- Swiss chard: Rich in potassium and magnesium which helps to control blood pressure. Fiber, Vitamin A, antioxidants and lutein add to the heart healthy profile.
- Carrots: Latest research shows carrots may help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing diabetes. They're also a top cholesterol fighting food thanks to the soluble fiber--the same found in oats. (Sneak shredded carrots in spaghetti sauce and muffin batters)
- Barley: Try barley in place of rice with dinner, or simmer barley in soups or in stews. Barley lowers cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. Hulled or whole grain barley is the most nutritious--pearled barley is quick but most of the fiber has been removed.
- Oatmeal: Lowers cholesterol--fills you up and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Make your own flour--put oats in a blender and grind them up to a flour consistency.
- Flaxseed: This has 3 elements that are good for your heart: fiber, phytochemicals called lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. Grind flaxseed and add to cereal, baked goods, even mustard on a sandwich.
- Blueberries: Loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Blueberries help prevent Alzheimer's disease as well as many other diseases.
- Cayenne chili pepper: Shaking hot chili powder on food may prevent a spike in insulin levels after meals.
- Cherries: Packed with anthocyanins, an antioxidant believed to help protect blood vessels. Cherries in any form provide heart health nutrients--the large heart shaped sweet cherries, the sour cherries for baking as well as dried cherries. Sprinkle dried cherries on cereal, in muffin batter, in green salads and wild rice.
So try to get some of these foods in your diet everyday. They are packed with nutrition and, with the exception of the nuts, are very low in calories. Remember, the beauty of eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet means no COUNTING anything, i.e., calories, fats, carbs, etc. The only food group we need to be careful with are the nuts and seed group....they are very good for us in SMALL amounts, but their fat and calorie content are high. A small handful, however, are very heart-healthy.
Now is the time of year when fruits and vegetables are in abundance. Check out the farmer's markets that pop up or the road side stands. There is nothing like the taste of home-grown vegetables and fruits--get them while the getting is good!!