When you shop for groceries or browse a menu at a restaurant, you most likely focus on what looks good based on your taste preferences. While that’s important, you also should consider heart-healthy foods.
February is American Heart Month. We figure there’s no time like the present to remember the importance of a heart-healthy diet. Read on for tips and suggestions on how to incorporate the best foods for heart health into your meals and snacks.
Why It’s Important to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Your heart pumps blood through your body to supply necessary nutrients and oxygen. If you neglect to protect your heart from harm, you could do irreversible damage that may threaten your life. From infections to heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, there are unfortunately many ailments you could suffer from without proper care and attention to this most important organ.
Heart Health Risks
The main risk associated with poor heart health is cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease), which encompasses a variety of conditions that can impact your heart health.
Cardiovascular disease describes narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This can develop into heart attacks, strokes and infections.
Symptoms of heart disease include chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, irregular heartbeat, swelling in legs or abdomen, fatigue, tiring easily during exercise and more. If you suspect you may have an unhealthy heart due to symptoms such as these, don’t hesitate to contact a doctor.
The good news is that there are many ways to help prevent heart disease and cardiovascular issues, simply by changing the way you eat. By reducing your sodium intake and limiting the foods you eat that are high in saturated fat, you can help your heart stay strong.
One of the easiest ways to keep your heart in good shape is to eat foods that are good for your heart. This, combined with regular exercise, will naturally help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Some of the best foods for heart health include:
- Whole Grain Oatmeal. This mainstay breakfast favorite is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Oats can help improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol. Plus, oatmeal is so filling it may promote weight loss, because you won’t overeat at your next meal.
- Berries. A great complement to oatmeal, or a delightful snack on their own, berries also include a high concentration of antioxidants and soluble fiber. Whether you prefer cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, eat up! They’ll all benefit your heart health in a positive way.
- Fish. A wonderful source of protein, fish high in omega-3s such as tuna, salmon or trout provide the good type of fat that’s essential to heart health, because it helps reduce the risk of heart attacks.
- Tomatoes. A staple for so many delicious recipes, this fruit comes packed with lycopene, alpha and beta-carotene and Vitamin C—all of which promote good heart health.
- Fruits. Another great source of heart-friendly beta-carotene, which also contain potassium and fiber, are fruits such as oranges and cantaloupes. Enjoy them on their own or in smoothies for a treat you won’t feel guilty about.
- Broccoli. Though many joke it’s unappealing, broccoli can be prepared in so many ways, one of them is bound to be enticing to any eater. With folate, fiber, potassium and a whole host of vitamins included in every bite, it’s best to embrace this green wonder for all its nutritional benefits.
- Dark Chocolate. A food you may not have to be persuaded to eat, this delectable dessert is quite good for your heart, provided it’s made with at least 70 percent cocoa. Be sure to check the label before you indulge.
- Red wine. Also a luxury, a 4 oz. glass of red wine has been shown to improve good cholesterol levels, which is key to maintaining a heart health.
- Nuts. Perfect because they can be eaten alone as a snack or added to everything from salads to desserts. Nuts like almonds will provide protein to help you feel full and supply unsaturated fats to help lower bad cholesterol.
Consult a Professional
If you’re concerned you may be at risk for heart health issues, you may want to speak to a Cardiologist. The team at the Western Washington Medical Group has provided expert care in the community for over 35 years. Learn more about our Cardiology practice here. Or, for general information, complete the form on this page.