It’s no secret that eating fewer fast food burgers and giant frappuccinos will improve heart health, but did you know that eating more heart healthy foods is just as important? Many of the foods you already enjoy will help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, leaving your heart healthy and your mouth happy! So bypass fatty, salt-laden processed foods and replace them with:
Avocado: Eat creamy, delicious avocados to lower LDL (or bad cholesterol) and regulate blood pressure. Rich in monounsaturated fats, minerals, plant sterols and soluble fiber, avocados pack a powerful heart healthy punch by “ushering” cholesterol right out of the body.
However, avocados are high in calories so limit your intake to about 1/4 avocado per day. Add sliced avocado to turkey or egg salad sandwiches, or mash avocado and use instead of mayonnaise. Top a salad or low-fat tacos with avocado chunks, or make a refreshing smoothie with avocado, yogurt and soymilk. When purchasing avocados, choose those that are soft to the touch, but not mushy. Harder avocados will continue to ripen if left at room temperature.
Kiwi: Kiwi is the unsung hero of heart health. Although there are several options available to help lower cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels are notoriously difficult to reduce. Triglycerides in the blood cause platelets to stick together, promoting clots. Clots are often the cause of strokes and/or heart attacks. Eating kiwi on a regular basis can reduce both triglyceride levels and reduce the stickiness of the remaining triglycerides. Kiwi’s high potassium content also helps regulate blood pressure.
Use kiwi in any recipe calling for fresh pineapple. Add versatile kiwi to salads, smoothies, baked with chicken or pork, sliced and added to a glass of iced tea, or pureed and used as a marinade. A ripe kiwi will have a little give to it when gently squeezed. Harder kiwi will ripen after a few days at room temperature.
Leafy Greens: Eat spinach, kale, Swiss chard, cress, mache, purslane or other leafy greens for a healthy heart. Excellent sources of calcium and antioxidants, greens help prevent arterial plaque build-up by reducing inflammation. Their high mineral content also helps reduce blood pressure levels. Leafy greens are also a great source of plant based omega 3 fatty acids.
Greens can be a delicious part of your meal even if you would never touch Popeye’s can of spinach! Add fresh, dark leafy greens to sandwiches, on tacos, or topping your next pizza. Add greens to a quick frittata, or toss a handful of spinach into a pot of soup. Sliced kale, chard, or cress make great additions to stir-fries, pasta dishes and casseroles.
Tea: Tea is full of antioxidants that help protect arteries from damage and reduce blood pressure levels. Drinking just two cups of tea each day can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by 40%, and may reduce recovery time for those who have had heart attacks. Tea will help you lose weight and its natural fluoride strengthens teeth.
Drink black, white, oolong or green tea, but it must be brewed tea not the powdered, instant kind. Chose a cup of black tea for a late afternoon pick me up, have a mid-morning cup of green tea to boost your immune system, and choose unsweetened iced tea instead of soda. Herbal tea, while a delicious drink, does not provide the same healthy heart benefits.
Citrus Fruits: Oranges and their citrus cousins; grapefruit, lemons, limes and tangerines, are full of heart healthy soluble fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, minerals and antioxidants that lower cholesterol levels. Eating just one orange a day can reduce the risk of stroke by 25%. Citrus fruits also lower triglyceride levels, blood pressure levels, and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. In addition, citrus fruits reduce arterial plaque while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels!
Orange and tangerines in particular are versatile additions to the kitchen and can be used interchangeably. Add orange segments to fruit or green salads, to chicken or pork while baking, or grind them up and mix with cranberries and a little sugar for a simple relish. Substitute orange juice for milk when making pancakes or muffins, or add to stews and bean dishes for a Caribbean flavor. Lemon and limes are most often used as juice to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can be used most anywhere orange juice can, but there is a caveat. Grapefruit interferes with some statin medications, so check with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.
Source by Renee Pottle