It’s the month of love and heart health, right? Although keeping your heart healthy every day is essential, we find February to be the perfect opportunity to remind you (and ourselves for that matter) how to keep our hearts pumping and healthy.
First off, did you know heart disease is the number one killer? Heart disease accounts for almost 1/3 of all deaths in the world. Mind. Blown. This is why heart health is so important. We want to prevent heart disease and lower our risk for heart attack and stroke. By the way, heart disease can strike at any age. Of course regular exercise is great for your heart, but diet is also proving to be a huge link to how healthy or unhealthy youe heart is. Let’s talk foods to eat to improve your heart (and overall) health.
Fiber. Eat more fiber throughout the day to help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). Fiber can be found in fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and more. Basically, eat lots of colorful produce and you’ll be good to go.
Leafy greens. Not only do these add fiber to your diet (double whammy!) but they also have a lot of Vitamin K which help protect your arteries.
Good quality oils. We’re talking extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and used in moderation, coconut oil. These help keep your arteries clean and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL), which helps transport the bad stuff out of your blood stream.
Wild caught salmon. This fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which also lower your LDL and can also decrease blood pressure and improve your arteries as well. If you’re not getting enough salmon in on a weekly basis, consider an omega supplement (preferably one that contains EPA and DHA which is easier to find in fish oil but can also be found in plant-based omega supplements like this one).
Walnuts. Not only do these nuts have magnesium, copper and manganese, but they also help reduce LDL and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
Avocados. You don’t have to tell me twice! This delicious fruit is a great source of monounsaturated fats and help lower your LDL, blood pressure and more.
Berries. These are packed with antioxidants which means less inflammation and oxidative stress for you!
Whole grains. Be sure you’re eating whole grains. This means it has all 3 parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran. You can find these in whole wheat breads, brown rice, oats, rye, quinoa, etc. Just be sure to read the label! Whole grains pack a mean fibrous punch and help lower your risk of heart disease in general.
Garlic. That delicious ingredient that goes with so many meals is also working behind the scenes helping to reduce blood pressure and LDL.
Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds. These are all high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which we know by know are super helpful for many things in your body but especially your heart. Throwing these seeds in your daily smoothie will help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Bottom line: try to eat more whole foods, healthy oils, seeds and nuts. You’ll check lots of boxes and avoid the bad stuff like processed foods and refined sugar. Your food is a powerful tool and medicine that can drastically change your health and prevent any disease down the road. We only have one body; let’s treat it right!