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Top Heart Healthy Foods
By Kathy B. Glazer   View more articles by this author
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October 21

We are usually being told what foods not to eat; well here is a listing of some great foods to eat. These are some foods that have good nutritional qualities and are relatively low in calories. Since all these foods have varying degree of benefit and value, they will be listed in alphabetical order. Remember that no one food is perfect so get a variety of foods in your diet every day. It’s best to think of a rainbow of colors of produce in your cart.

1.    Blueberries
Blueberries contain antioxidants, including one that gives it its blue color.  These antioxidants may be helpful in lowering bad cholesterol, blood fats, and blood sugar levels. This fruit is low in calories, high in fiber and provides some vitamin C.

2.    Flax seed and flax seed oil
This food contains a form of omega-3 fatty acid that may be helpful in decreasing the risk of heart disease. Ground flax seed contains fiber (but the flax seed oil does not have fiber). They both have antioxidants /phytoestrogens substances.   

3.    Legumes and beans
Black beans, pintos, lentils and garbanzo beans contain soluble fiber which may lower cholesterol and improve insulin resistance.  All beans are low in fat, are good  sources of protein and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium.

4.    Milk ( non fat ) any variety
Milk has great nutritional qualities. Consider soymilk or yogurt if you are lactose in-tolerant (or lactaid).  Low fat milk is low in calories and high in protein, vitamins, and calcium. The majority of children and adults in the U.S. don’t get enough milk or dairy  products.

5.    Oatmeal
This whole grain food is a great source of B vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of fiber, which is thought to lower cholesterol. It is inexpensive if you buy it in bulk.

6.    Olive Oil
Olive oil and canola oils are heart healthy oils .They are high in monounsaturated fat (a better source of fat than saturated fat of animal origin or tropical oils such as palm and  coconut  oils). It is better to use these oils in cooking, and baking. Avoid saturated,  hydrogenated or trans fats that are found in some shortening or margarines. Olive oil helps lower inflammation which is a risk factor for heart disease.

7.    Salmon and other fatty fish; such as herring, trout, blue fish
Fish contain two types of omega–3 fatty acids and good quantities of high quality protein. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce blood levels of total cholesterol and, bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides and decrease the stickiness of blood clotting platelets.

8.    Soy Protein
Soy provides relatively high quality protein with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can contribute to lowering of blood cholesterol. Goods forms include edamame, soy milk,  soy yogurt, and tofu.

9.    Spinach
The dark green of spinach is caused by the phyotchemicals, which are thought to be heart healthy.  Mom was right when she said eat your spinach. Add some spinach in a salad or to a sandwich to increase its nutritional value.

10.    Walnuts and other nuts ( almond, pistachio. pecans)
Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Nuts have vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats (healthy fat) and fiber. Nuts are part of the “Mediterranean diet,” which is very heart healthy. Add some to cereal, salads or use as a snack. Just be cautious when using them as they are high in calories. An once (18-22 mixed nuts) is equal to 170 calories.* 

11.    Wine: red wine and red grape juice
One glass for women, and up to 2 glasses of red wine or red grape juice for men a day is associated with decreased risk of heart disease.  This is thought to be due to the chemical resveratrol and the antioxidants in the red grape skins. For calorie counters keep in mind that one 4 oz. glass of red wine adds 90 calories (medium glass 6 oz.= 135.)* to your intake.

*(Calorie King.com)

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