5 Foods that Boost Heart Health
by Ashley Martinez, MFN, RD, LD, NASM-CPT
Our heart is a vital organ that beats over a hundred thousand times a day while pumping oxygenated blood to all other organs. It’s the main operator or “captain of the ship,” so nourishing it appropriately can guide us onto a healthy path. Surprisingly enough, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. The good news is that we can do something about this. Simply consuming heart-smart foods can lower your risk of developing heart disease and greatly benefit your health. It’s not really a radical idea to say that using food can be a preventive form of medicine. You may just need help knowing what those foods are. The Kroger Dietitian team is here to help.
5 top foods to consume for a healthy heart
Avocados (OptUP score: 100)
Avocados are called a superfood for good reason – they’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to support healthy levels of good cholesterol, or HDL. Additionally, avocados contain phytosterols which, in some studies, have contributed to lowering the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Managing your cholesterol levels is just one factor in maintaining a healthy heart. All the richness that these healthy fats provide contribute to the bioavailability (how well a nutrient is absorbed) of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K. Any food that boosts the nutrition of another is always a good food to incorporate.
Chia Seeds (OptUP score: 100)
These little guys are small but mighty! Each tiny seed is packed with fiber, iron, omega-3s and calcium. Many of these nutrients have shown benefits to heart health, but let’s focus on fiber for now. The fiber found in chia seeds is soluble fiber which is gel-like and spongy. This type of fiber may help lower bad LDL cholesterol and slow digestion. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol found in the blood and excretes the excess as needed. Consuming adequate amounts of soluble fiber may assist in preventing atherosclerosis, a condition that clogs arteries.
Dark Leafy Greens (OptUP score: 90)
As a general rule, the darker the green the more nutrients the lettuce contains. Choosing spinach, kale, microgreens or even collard greens are great choices for heart health because those dark leafy greens are high in potassium, a nutrient associated with lowering blood pressure levels. Vitamin K is another nutrient found in dark leafy greens that assists with blood clotting, further supporting a healthy heart. Add these to your omelet, your stir-fry or even ground up in your pesto for a boost of nutrition.
Blueberries (OptUP score: 88)
Packed with antioxidants which combat free radicals or “foreign invaders” in the body, blueberries earn the title superfood. Their fiber and phytochemical content also play a role in supporting a healthy heart. Add these to your cereal, smoothie or peanut butter toast to amplify your nutrition.
Fatty Fish (OptUP score: 86)
Salmon, tuna and mackerel are just a few fatty fish that are high in omega-3s, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause damage to the body and heart which may lead to heart disease. To prevent inflammation, the USDA recommends consuming two servings, or 8 ounces, of omega-3-rich fish a week. You can easily achieve this by using the “Easy for You!” seafood service at Kroger. We’ll prep your favorite seafood, season it with your chosen herbs and spices and seal it in an oven- or grill-ready foil bag – all for free! Just order online or in-store, place it in the oven and bake away.
Incorporate these five delicious foods into your routine for maximum heart-health benefits. For more tips and insights on nutrition, make a telenutrition appointment with a Kroger Dietitian today!
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