Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Taking our heart health seriously is serious business! Here’s the good news: the health of your heart is mostly in your hands. Yes, genetics play a big role, but lifestyle is a major player in your risk. Eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, limiting alcohol, sleeping enough, and managing your stress all make a difference. And what you put on your plate is just as — if not more — important as what you choose to skip.
Here are 10 foods you should add to your diet to keep your ticker in tip top shape.
- Oats. Oats contain cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. One study showed that regularly eating oats can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 10 percent and cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke) by up to 20 percent. BeBOLD bars are packed with these good-for-you grains!
- Chia seeds. These tiny seeds can offer big benefits when it comes to heart health. They are packed with soluble fiber AND omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better heart health. All BeBOLD flavors include chia seeds, too.
- Hemp Seeds/Hemp Hearts. Similar to chia seeds, hemp seeds are a good source of omega-3’s and emerging research suggests they may offer additional heart health benefits. Sprinkle them on your yogurt, oatmeal, or salad.
- Apples. Apples not only contain fiber, which can keep your total and LDL cholesterol in check, but they are also a good source of pectin. Pectin has been shown to have possible cholesterol-lowering effects and may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. For a healthy, satisfying dessert, try a baked apple topped with crumbled BeBOLD bars.
- Walnuts. All nuts are good for your heart as they contain heart-healthy unsaturated fat. However, walnuts provide one of the best plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Daily consumption of walnuts is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Walnuts are one of the key ingredients in BeBOLD bars.
- Salmon. Salmon is one of the best sources of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s may not only help prevent heart disease, but can also play a role in keeping your heart in good shape even if you have heart disease.
- Chickpeas and other beans. Studies have shown over and over again that beans are good for your heart (and overall health!). One review suggests that eating beans four times per week is linked to a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to eating them less than once per week.
- Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, which plays an important role in heart health.
- Avocado. Avocados are packed with three heart-healthy nutrients: fiber, monounsaturated fats, and potassium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and can help offset sodium in your diet. Avocados contain antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Leafy Greens. Leafy greens contain dietary nitrates (beets are another great source!), which have been linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy women to ditch diets and learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.