The new year is fast approaching and if you’re ready to start executing those health-focused resolutions, we have a list that can help. It contains some of the best heart-healthy foods you can eat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares that 39.8% of adults in the United States are affected by obesity, which is more than one-quarter of our adult population. If that statistic isn’t scary enough, obesity can lead to conditions like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and other serious health issues, all of which can lead to premature death.
The first step in combating obesity and achieving a healthy lifestyle is to start eating healthier foods. Harvard Medical School shares a study about specific foods that can directly impact the chances of developing cardiometabolic diseases like diabetes, stroke and heart disease. But we're providing additional recommendations you can use to stay heart-healthy.
The 10 Best Heart-Healthy Foods
1. Nuts and Seeds
Try implementing walnuts, almonds, flax seeds and chia seeds into your diet. These are all great sources of fiber and can lower bad cholesterol — which has a direct impact on your heart!
2. Seafoods Rich in Omega-3
Think mackerel, salmon, sea bass and oysters. The omega-3 fatty acids in each of these lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
It’s time to make spinach your friend. Spinach, kale and collard greens are popular leafy greens for those looking to be more health-conscious. Their main component is vitamin K, which protects your arteries, promotes proper blood clotting and also reduces blood pressure.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which means they have many health benefits. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries aid in inflammation and can help control blood pressure. An easy way to get your daily dose of berries is to throw them into a smoothie.
5. Whole Grains
There are many whole grains to choose from in order to keep your heart healthy. Substitute white sandwich bread with whole wheat bread, opt for brown rice instead of white rice and try oatmeal for breakfast. Whole grains are high in fiber and can reduce your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
You can eat yogurt at any time of the day and know that your cholesterol and gut health will benefit from it. Mix yogurt with other heart-healthy foods on this list, like berries and oats, to get a real health boost.
If you already use garlic in a lot of your cooking, you’re on the right track. Did you know that one clove of raw garlic contains manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, fiber and more? All of the active compounds in garlic can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Your heart will thank you for the garlic you’re eating.
Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. Pass the guac, please!
The American Heart Association shares all of the heart-healthy benefits of beans and legumes here. The choices seem endless and can be added to almost any dish. One of our favorite ways to eat more beans is to throw some kidney beans into a hearty, winter chili.
10. Dark Chocolate
We couldn’t end this list without a delicious treat. It’s true: Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and several studies have shown that it can lower your risk of heart disease. The next time you want to indulge in something sweet, pick up a piece of dark chocolate!
For more healthy recommendations, check out our list of immunity-boosting foods that will aid in heart health and the fight against obesity. Not only is it important to eat healthier, but preparing food the right way will make your journey easier. See our tips for healthy food preparation here.
Make an appointment with your doctor to check the status of your heart health. To learn more about the development and dangers of heart disease, download our Heart Disease guide.