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What Are The Best Foods for Your Heart?

Heart shaped bowl set out for American Heart MonthIn case you haven’t yet heard, it is American Heart Month. This one means a lot to us here at Achieve Clinical Research, because heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the country. However there is a silver lining, because most cases can be prevented if people are willing to make better lifestyle choices that can support a healthier heart.

It’s not always easy, but these are things that can really change your life. The American Heart Association talks about life’s “simple 7” keys to keeping your heart healthy and one of the most important aspects is eating right. Now dieting can seem daunting, but it really is much more simple than you think– you just need to take the time to educate yourself and start small (like one meal at a time).

If you’ve been considering making a healthy change to your diet, American Heart Month really is the perfect time to get started. We’ve compiled a list of foods that are renowned for their heart healthy benefits and should really be included in your next grocery list (if they aren’t’ already). These foods are great at battling heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Oatmeal

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so you wanna make sure you’re making the most of it. With it’s abundance of potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, folate and fiber, oatmeal is the way to go! A steaming bowl of oatmeal is superfood that will work overtime to keep your arteries clear and lower your LDL (also known as “bad”) cholesterol.

Our Recommendations: While adding this food to your breakfast menu is great, not all types of oatmeal are created equal. We recommend buying the steel-cut or coarse oats over the instant oatmeal brands. If you want to add some more flavor and nutrition to your bowl, consider adding some fruit like strawberries or banana (or both).

Salmon

Salmon is great for high cholesterolStudies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids help support long-term heart health, among many other incredible things. Fish, in particular salmon, are a great way to boost the amount of omega-3’s you’re getting in your diet. Eating more salmon can help keep your blood pressure levels in check and prevent potential blood clots. As little as two servings a week may be all you need to reduce your risk of heart attack by as much as 33%.

Our Recommendations: If it’s available, try to purchase cuts of wild salmon over farm-raised salmon. Other naturally oily fish like tuna, herring and mackerel are good alternatives too. If you’re not a fan of fish, then we do recommend looking into fish oil supplements to help ensure you’re getting the proper amount of omega-3 in your diet.

Avocados

This fruit is all the craze right now and for good reason! The avocado is another superfood in its own right with its natural abundance of healthy oils and monounsaturated fat. Adding this to your diet can help lower your LDL and boost your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Our Recommendations: The avocado is delicious and is a much healthier alternative to something like mayonnaise on your favorite sandwich. If you want to learn more about the avocado, please check out this post.

Olive Oil

People with high cholesterol should eat more omega 3 fatty acidsHere’s another tasty way to improve your heart health. Cooking with olive oil will help ensure that you are getting more monounsaturated fats in your diet. Essentially, olive oil can help provide many of the benefits that you’d get from avocados, so it’s an effective alternative under those circumstances.

Our Recommendations: Fats have been demonized as something you must avoid if you want to be healthy. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’d see that things are rarely this black and white. The key is that you are limiting your sources of unhealthy fat while maximizing on healthy fat foods. Olive oil is a great cooking alternative to butter.

Berries

Hopefully with the diverse range to choose from, there is a type of berry out there that you are a fan of. Studies have shown that blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all naturally abundant in anti-inflammatories. Including more of these in your diet can protect you from heart disease and cancer.

Our Recommendations: Researchers have found that blackberries and blueberries provide the biggest boost for your long-term vascular health.

Legumes

So what are legumes? Ones that you might be familiar with include various types of beans, chickpeas and lentils. Legumes are a great addition to any diet because they are packed with things like:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (yes again!)
  • Calcium
  • Soluble fiber

Want to learn more about legumes? Check out this informative post.

Soy

Healthy soy products for your heart healthSoy may not be on the top of anyone’s “that’s delicious” list, but it is a great source of lean protein and it is low in saturated fat– meaning it’ll make a great addition to your heart-healthy diet plan.

Our Recommendations: Natural sources of soy are the best way to go, but items like soy milk can work well too (especially if you’re adding it to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning). However, not all soy food items are created equal. Items like soy dogs can contain a high amount of sodium which can increase your blood pressure.

We hope you found this post informative! Although the most important thing is that you realize how simple it can be to start making heart healthy choices in your life today. If you’d like to learn more about the American Heart Association’s Simple 7, please click here.

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