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Top 5 Heart-Healthy Foods for the Holidays

December 17, 2012

The traditional Christmas dinner is usually high in fat, sugar, and calories. However, there are some holiday foods that are truly nutritious and heart healthy. When you are preparing holiday foods, choose lean meats, brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, and use healthy cooking methods such as roasting, broiling, baking, steaming, and microwaving.

Here are the top 5 heart healthy foods for the holidays:

1) Turkey

heart healthy foods for the holidaysTurkey is provides a lot of lean protein, but contains less than half the amount of saturated fat that is found in beef. It is also a great source of vitamin B6 and niacin, which can enhance energy metabolism, as well as selenium, which strengthens the immune system.

2) Cranberries

Cranberries are rich in anthocyanins, a type of phytochemicals that can improve circulation and nerve function, and provides protection against diseases. Also, they can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

3) Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain a wide range of nutrients, including beta carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, and dietary fiber. Vitamin A and vitamin C function as antioxidants to combat free radicals that cause damage to cells, therefore, helping to prevent heart disease and cancer.

4) Yams

Yams are another type of food that can promote heart health. They contain high amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and dietary fiber. Vitamin B6 helps to prevent heart attack and stroke by reducing homocysteine levels in the body, and potassium plays the important role of controlling hypertension, one of the contributing factors to heart disease.

5) Green Beans

Also called string beans, green beans are low in calories, and they are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium, folate, and dietary fiber. They can promote proper blood clotting and bone health, as well as offer protection against cancer and heart disease.

Free healthy eating guide