Top 10 Superfoods for Heart Health
First, let’s clarify what we mean by “Superfoods.”
For a food to be in the ‘Super’ category, it needs to be a powerful hitter in the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory category, carrying with it the ability to protect the heart from damaging free radicals. High levels of free radicals cause inflammation and irritation in our arteries and vessels, where plaquing starts. Left unchecked, that plaque causes heart attack and stroke.
In addition to being high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals, these Superfoods are also good sources of fiber that helps keep arteries clear and lower cholesterol numbers.
Prevent heart disease with these Top 10 Superfoods:
- Berries. Any variety works as they’re loaded with Flavonoids and Vitamin C. Blend them into smoothies, eat in equal parts with yogurt or pop them as a snack. One of the highest fiber foods around.
- Flax seed. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant Omega-3s as well as Lignans, which have antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains up to 800 times more Lignans than other plant foods.
- Salmon. Any fish is heart healthy, but salmon is particularly heart healthy with its high amount of Omega-3 Fat that helps reduce cholesterol levels.
- Kale. A very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, and Potassium, as well as Copper and Manganese. Consume raw or cooked, it’s all good.
- Almonds. More superfood nutrients here include Vitamin E, Copper and Magnesium. Grab a handful daily for a high fiber, healthy fat with some protein.
- Broccoli. High in fiber, Vitamin E, Manganese, and Carotenoids. Enjoy raw or cooked from fresh or frozen varieties, you can’t go wrong. Not a fan? Cook and blend into soups, stews or pasta sauce to hide the flavor but maintain the superfood status. Much of the flavor some dislike is from the potent anti-inflammatory sulphur component that helps put it on the superfoods list.
- Avocado. These guys, technically grown as a fruit but containing 100% of their calories as fat, contain over 20 vitamins and minerals essential for heart health. Go easy on this healthy monounsaturated fat, with ¼ of an avocado a reasonable portion, otherwise it’s too much fat.
- Cherries. A cup provides 16% of the recommended vitamin C for the day. Not in season? Frozen or canned (avoid canned in heavy syrup as sugar is pro-inflammatory) have all the nutritional value of fresh.
- Sweet Potato. An excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, Manganese, Copper, Pantothenic acid and Vitamin B6.
- Citrus. Load up on Vitamin C and Lycopene with oranges and grapefruit, and squeeze the juice of lemons and limes into your water each day to establish a heart-healthy routine of drinking ‘super water’.
Karen Fisher, MS, RDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at www.NutritionConnectionNV.com.