Foods That Improve Heart Health

With so much focus on losing weight, it is sometimes easy to overlook the other big health benefits of switching to a healthier diet. One part of your body that will greatly benefit from you eating less fatty foods and more fruits, veggies and whole grains is your heart. Although some conditions that arise with your heart may be genetically related, many heart problems can be avoided or minimized by eating a healthier diet and limiting your consumption of alcohol (for more information, see my post “Alcohol Affects Risks of Cancer and Heart Disease in Women“). Some of these heart conditions include heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

There are many foods that improve heart health that are also great diet foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

There are many foods that improve heart health that are also great diet foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

If you want to know more about keeping your heart healthy, there are plenty of things you can find and read. However, most of those things tell you about what you should not eat, rather than what you should eat. You can plan your diet to avoid those foods that are bad for your heart, but you do you know about the food that improves heart health? These are the foods that you should incorporate into your daily meal plan to keep your heart as healthy and as strong as it can be. It may just lead to a longer and more active life.

Foods on the bad list are usually ones we love to eat. However, we have to eat them in moderation, or not at all, in order to have the best heart health. These include foods with trans fats and saturated fats (refer to the post “Trans Fats and How to Avoid Them“). Those fats are the ones that clog arteries and contribute to a host of other health and heart problems. That does not mean you have to avoid all fats, however. Some fats are good for you, and can contribute to good heart health. Look for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats to incorporate into your cooking routine.

One heart health powerhouse is berries. This includes berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and acai berries (here’s a great article “Acai Berry Health Benefits“). Berries contribute to your heart’s health because they are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Try to have these a few times a week. The best thing about berries is that they are easy to add to many dishes. You can have them plain as a snack, or you can add them to your morning breakfast cereal. Try healthy versions of berry muffins, or have them fresh or half frozen in milk with a half a teaspoon of sugar. You can also look for great smoothie recipes that includes berries.

Another great food that improves heart health is oatmeal. This is traditionally a breakfast food, but you can eat it any time during the day (it makes a super simple and tasty lunch – one of my favorites). The oats are great for your heart and lower cholesterol levels in the body. Try adding the above mentioned berries to your bowl of oatmeal for a great meal or add the oats to some of your other meals. You can use them as fillers in meatloaf and meatballs, or you can use them as a coating to oven baked foods such as chicken breast strips, fish and casseroles.

Other great foods for your heart include salmon, spinach, soy, low fat proteins like beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Don’t forget the other things you need to keep your heart healthy. Add exercise to your weekly schedule, and try to keep your stress levels down as much as possible. If you smoke, stop, and avoid binge drinking. Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on your sodium levels.

For myself, I have a history of heart disease among the women in my family. About five years ago, at one of the heaviest weights I’ve been, I began to experience strange heart palpitations and needless to say I was very concerned. After a number of tests, my doctor could not find anything wrong with my heart, but I knew that my symptoms were just a sign of problems to come. And I’m ashamed to say that even though my heart was popping around like a ping-pong ball, I still didn’t change my diet, nor did I get more exercise. In fact, I became paranoid about exercising because I didn’t want to strain myself. Both of these were poor decisions, but at least I have turned it around now. Eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats, limiting my alcohol consumption and getting lots of exercise has improved all aspects of my health. I haven’t had an abnormal heart palpitation for over a year now and I know it is because my heart is stronger and healthier because of the life changes I’ve made.

If you are concerned about your heart health, get a checkup from your doctor and then start making diet and exercise changes in your life right away. Remember that even though some conditions are hereditary this does not mean you are doomed. Even hereditary heart conditions can be minimized or avoided all together and including these foods that improve heart health in your diet is a good start.


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1 comment to Foods That Improve Heart Health

  • Heart Healthy Cooking Recipes

    What an interesting and info packed site. Thanks for this, I really appreciate what you have done here. Keep it up, and I will be back for more. Bill Kilner

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