In a fast-paced world where convenience trumps (more time- and labor-intensive) healthy home cooking, the battle is on to protect your heart. The food choices you make can drastically affect your heart health, energy and appetite control. Keep your heart in tip-top shape with choices that are tasty, healthy and convenient for the entire family. From berries and nuts, to fish and leafy greens, find out which foods are best for your heart.
Satisfy your sweet tooth while chomping on a slice of watermelon, a low-calorie treat that is high in fiber and a great source of antioxidants, according to Dr. Sarah Samaan, cardiologist with Legacy Heart Center in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. “It’s a fabulous source of lycopene, which has been linked to a lower risk for heart disease and cancer,” Samaan says. “Watermelon also supplies citrulline, which may improve the health of our blood vessels and may even have benefits for people with erectile dysfunction and diabetes.” Watermelon is also a source of vitamins C and A, as well as potassium and magnesium.
For a sweet and savory treat that won’t clog your arteries, opt for a cup of yogurt, which will protect more than just your heart, says Dr. Andrea Paul, a physician and chief medical officer at Boardvitals.com, an online medical question bank. “Yogurt protects against gum disease, which can increase your risk of heart disease,” she says. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, according to Paul when you eat low-fat yogurt, you also absorb powerful antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and probiotics that are beneficial to your overall health, digestion and well-being. Top with fresh or frozen berries for a sweet and healthy treat during the day.
Tomatoes contain a solid dose of heart-healthy vitamin C and like watermelon, are rich in lycopene. “Try making your own tomato sauce with canned or fresh tomatoes, and add oregano and chopped-up veggies for a gourmet, homemade pasta sauce with mega antioxidant power,” recommends Keri Glassman, New York-based nutritionist, television cooking host and author of “The New You (and Improved) Diet.” Vitamin C works as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage, says Glassman.
Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats and are a source of potassium, a mineral also known for controlling blood pressure, according to Bridget Swinney, a Texas-based registered dietitian. “They are also a great source of vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids,” Swinney says. “Carotenoids have been associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.” In addition to offering a beneficial dose of fiber, avocados have been shown to help the body absorb other antioxidants when eaten with veggies such as spinach and carrots, she says.