Men's Health, Nutrition and Fitness, Women's Health, Your Health Ben Brown | 7 years ago

12 Heart Healthy Foods That Are Delicious AND Good for You

Eating right for good heart health doesn’t have to be boring. Did you know that there are many delicious foods that pack plenty of health benefits (in moderation)? Let’s take a look at some.

A healthy heart lets you stay focused on doing what you love.  Learn how Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute can help you keep your heart healthy.  1. Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate is packed with disease-fighting antioxidant plant chemicals called flavonols; milk chocolate contains only modest amounts. Those antioxidants can help reduce the risk of blood clots, lower blood pressure and fight inflammation that can cause a stroke or heart attack. 2. Flavored Waters Infused waters are easy to make, nutritious and better for you than sugary sodas or iced teas. The best kind is the kind you make at home, so experiment with different types. Why not try strawberry-lemon with basil or watermelon with mint? Simply put your favorite ingredients in a pitcher of water and let the flavors infuse overnight. 3. Greek Yogurt Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt and a creamier, richer consistency. Choose low-fat, plain varieties to avoid added sugars and add your own fresh fruit. 4. Cheese Cheese contains a host of nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A and B12 and of course calcium, which is one of the nutrients lacking in the American diet. There are hundreds of cheese types to try but for the best health benefits, choose small amounts of full-fat cheese. 5. Berries Berries have high levels of phytochemicals – naturally occurring nutrients that help protect cells from damage. They can also help with weight control, thanks to the sense of fullness they give us from their fiber and liquid content. So the next time you're looking for a sweet dessert, try a big bowl of berries! 6. Pasta (whole grain) Who doesn't love a big bowl of pasta with a delicious homemade tomato sauce? The next time you crave pasta, try the whole-grain variety. It's rich in many nutrients essential for health and is high in dietary fiber, which promotes digestive regularity, and may help lower cholesterol and aid in cancer prevention. Whole-grain pasta is also carbohydrate rich, which provides energy and is more nutrient rich than refined, or white flour pasta. 7. Peanut Butter (natural) You grew up on the processed sugary stuff, but now that you're older and wiser, choose the natural variety. Use natural peanut butter for a dip with apples, in soup (yes, soup) or even in a sauce over noodles or with chicken satay skewers. 8. Garlic Few things add flavor to food like garlic. Packed with antioxidants, garlic can give your immune system a boost, help you beat inflammation and improve heart health. Garlic has also been shown to promote hair growth, reduce acne and, according to folklore, can help remove a splinter! Roasted, fried or even steeped in a tea, garlic is available year-round and packs plenty of health benefits. 9. Nuts Nuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Studies show that people who eat nuts two to four days per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who enjoy nuts less often. So jazz up your salads, veggies or meat dishes with a helping of heart-healthy walnuts, peanuts, pecans, almonds or pistachios. 10. Popcorn Popcorn gets a bad rap, but that's mostly due to the loads of added salt and butter on the movie variety. Plain popcorn has more iron than eggs and spinach and more protein and phosphorus than potato chips. At just 31 calories per cup, popcorn is a great snack for weight management, and with 1.3 grams of fiber per cup, it's also a whole grain that's rich in antioxidants. 11. Fish Salmon and other fatty or oily fish like tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout contain mega amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown in studies to lower the risk of irregular heart beat and plaque build-up in the arteries. Try broiling, grilling or steaming fatty fish at least twice a week for heart health. 12. Potatoes When prepared correctly (without loads of butter, sour cream, cheese and salt) potatoes offer many nutritional benefits. They're high in fiber, which can lower the risk for heart disease and they're rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. The vitamin C in potatoes also acts as an antioxidant.