Right before many of us start up those New Year’s resolutions, the holidays ensure we get plenty of unhealthy food and lots of calories. This time of year can be particularly difficult for people trying to limit saturated fats and sodium as part of a healthy diet. With that being said, it’s important for your long term health to be conscious of what foods you are also choosing for your heart.
Your heart is like a finely-tuned machine. To keep it running in top form you need to give it heart healthy fuel. And that means choosing a healthy diet. More than 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease. So picking the right healthy foods can make all the difference!
Nuts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. And for a heart-healthy nut, almonds make a great choice. They contain plant omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and heart-favorable monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds are so easy to eat – you can top your yogurt or salad with almond slivers, or snack on a healthy trail mix. Just be sure your almonds are raw or dry roasted (rather than oil roasted), and keep portion sizes in mind.
Tofu is a great source of protein. It’s vegetarian. And it’s full of heart-healthy nutrients including niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Tofu is sometimes called “bean curd” because it is made from pressed soybean curd. It’s easy to prepare and can be part of almost any meal.
Brown rice is not only tasty, it’s part of a heart healthy diet too. Brown rice provides B-complex vitamins, magnesium, and fiber.
You can add brown rice to just about any dish and you can’t go wrong. Microwaveable brown rice with a few chopped veggies makes an easy and quick lunch. Mix it with some black beans or tofu, make a stir-fry, add to soups, or try it cold mixed into an avocado salad.
Spinach packs a heart-healthy punch with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber.
Spinach makes a great base for salads and can be used on sandwiches in lieu of lettuce. You can also sneak some into a fruit smoothie, add it to your pizza, or mix into an egg white omelet.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins. You will find vitamin A and C inside them, and sweet potatoes are a rare low-fat source of vitamin E. They also have potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber—and you get even more fiber when you eat their skins.
Chocolate contains heart-healthy resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids), which can lower blood pressure.It’s best to stick to dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content to reap the benefits, and remember moderation is key because chocolate is high in calories, fat, and sugar.
Red wine contains types of flavonoids called catechins, as well as the antioxidant resveratrol. Flavonoids can help maintain the health of your blood vessels, and may help prevent blood clots. Resveratrol has been shown in the lab to have heart-protecting benefits.
Have a glass of wine with dinner, or make a wine spritzer – mix wine with sparkling water – to cut calories while still getting many of the benefits. *Please enjoy in moderation & responsibly*
Making lifestyle changes to protect your heart and reduce your likelihood of experiencing any heart related diseases can make all the difference.
At The Center for Integrative & Traditional Medicine, Dr. Finn uses medications and non-traditional ways to treat a wide range of conditions, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and immune disorders, and stress related conditions to name a few. Don’t wait until it is too late. Start making changes, one step at a time today! Give us a call (201) 291-0401