Include whole grains, fresh fruit (esp. citrus fruits, apple, banana), leafy greens and seaweeds (spinach and nori packs a punch!), fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel) high in omega 3s, bell peppers in your diet. Use olive oil for cooking; grapeseed/flax oil to top salads/veggies. Try a handful of nuts and seeds (almond, pumpkin seeds), raw honey as a natural sweetener.
Healthy eating is key to maintain a healthy heart and prevent heart disease. It is not as hard as you think! Remember, it is the overall pattern of your choices that counts.
So, as you make your daily food choices aiming for a better heart health, base your eating pattern on the following recommendations:
Heart Healthy Food Choices
Include Whole, Fresh, High Fiber Foods
- All green leafy vegetables, especially cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, and all seaweeds, particularly nori.
- A variety of vegetables is important in any diet, but asparagus, bell pepper, tomato, celery, cucumber, radish, mushrooms, and the garlic and onion family are excellent choices for heart health.
- All fresh fruit, especially the citrus family, apple, and banana.
- Onions, apples, and black tea contain high amounts of quercitin, a bioflavonoid that acts as an antioxidant.
- Bran and whole grains, particularly oats, rye, amaranth, buckwheat, rice, and sprouted wheat.
- All legumes, particularly soy and soy products, mung beans, peas, lentils.
- Nuts and seeds, especially almond, walnut, hazelnut, flax seed, pumpkin and poppy seeds, and sunflower sprouts.
Include Heart-Healthy Fats
- Use only cold pressed oil; rancid oils are harmful.
- Use monounsaturated olive oil (the dark green extra-virgin is best!) for cooking.
- Eat omega 3 sources such as deep water fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel), and flax seed or flax seed oil (never cook with flax oil – use as salad dressing or add to foods after they are cooked).
- Ground flax seed (flax meal) should be stored in the freezer to reduce rancidity and flax oil should always be stored in the refrigerator.
- Use grape seed oil for an omega 6 source (do not cook with grape seed oil; use only as salad dressing or to “dress” your vegetables).
- Olive, flax, and grapeseed oils may be mixed with vinegar or lemon juice and your favorite herbs for a hearthealthy dressing to top salads and veggies.
- Avoid saturated fats from – fried foods, processed lunch meats, red meats, mayonnaise, dairy fat, margarine, and any food containing “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
Include Natural Sweeteners, Antioxidant Rich Foods
- Raw honey is the most acceptable sweetener.
- Avoid refined sugars as they have been shown to increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL.
- Turmeric is a beneficial anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory spice.