6 Top Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Heart
Today, on Redhead Mom, I’m sharing a partnered guest post about 6 Top Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Heart.
Did you know that your heart will beat about 2.5 billion times throughout the course of your life? This illustrates why it’s so important to keep our hearts — one of the body’s most vital organs — as healthy and happy as possible. Do this with these top six nutrition tips for a healthy heart.
#1. Start with Salmon
You likely already know about the great protein in salmon, but did you know the cold-water fish is also chock full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids? In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating salmon and other foods that are rich in omega-3s at least twice a week.
Salmon is a highly versatile dish that’s pretty simple to prepare. You can fire up the grill and throw some salmon on to serve with a side of veggies. Use leftover salmon to toss in salads, over rice, in pasta dishes, or even to make salmon cakes. Smoked salmon is another delicious delicacy that adds that “Je ne sais quoi” to whatever dish you add it to — or eat it on its own for a low-calorie, heart-healthy snack.
#2. Fill Your Plate with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of benefits for our overall health. They also have impressive heart health benefits.
In particular, leafy green vegetables, including spinach and kale, are well known for their ample vitamins and antioxidants. They are a particularly good source of vitamin K, which helps protect the arteries and promotes proper blood clotting. What’s more, they’re also high in dietary nitrates that have been shown to lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness and improve the function of the cells that line the blood vessels.
Fruit is another extremely heart-healthy food, especially berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are jam-packed with essential nutrients responsible for a healthy heart. In fact, studies show that eating a lot of berries can reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Berries can be a satisfying snack when you’re looking for something sweet, are versatile, and can be eaten plain, on top of yogurt or ice cream, on top of angel food cake, or in smoothies.
#3. Consume Your Daily Whole Grains
Several studies have found that consuming more whole grains benefits heart health. Whole grains include all three nutrient-dense components of the grain: germ, endosperm, and brain. Common whole grains include oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, barley, quinoa, and buckwheat. Whole grains may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease because they contain more fiber than refined grains. When buying whole grains, be sure to read the label closely because words like “whole grain” and “whole wheat” indicate a whole-grain product. But, words like “multigrain” and “wheat flour” may not.
#4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate can help boost heart health. One study found that people who ate chocolate at least five times per week had a 57% lower chance of developing coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters. Need we say more? Of course, you don’t want to overdo the dark chocolate consumption, and make sure you’re picking high-quality dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa.
#5. Add Some Good Fats to Your Diet
All fat is not created equal. Fatty foods like avocados that contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats have been linked to lowered cholesterol levels and lowered risks of heart disease. Avocados also happen to be rich in potassium, a nutrient that is vital for heart health. One avocado supplies 975 milligrams of potassium — that’s about 28% of the recommended daily value!
Another example of a “good fat” is olive oil — the Greek staple is packed with antioxidants that can help relieve inflammation and lower the risk of chronic disease. Olive oil is also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and has been linked to an improvement in heart health in several studies. One study of more than 7,000 high-risk adults found that those who consumed the most olive oil had a 35% lower chance of developing heart disease. Additionally, high olive oil intake was linked to a 48% reduced risk of dying from heart disease. You can take advantage of the many benefits of olive oil by cooking meat and vegetables in it, drizzling it over cooked dishes, and adding it to vinaigrettes and sauces.
#6. Hold the Salt
For optimal heart health, less is more when it comes to salt. This is especially true for people who are already at risk of or who have high blood pressure. Try to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day to improve your blood pressure. For people who already have high blood pressure, limit your salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.
New evidence continues to emerge that validates the link between heart disease and diet. The foods you choose have the power to influence every aspect of your health, so choose wisely and with your future and goals in mind.