Find our 4 of the Best Foods for Heart Health, as well as easy ways to incorporate them into your diet. Fear not, dark chocolate's included!
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and there’s no better time to start caring for your heart! One of the best ways to keep your heart in its best condition is by being conscious of your food choices. A heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to equate to boring or flavorless, though. Here are four delicious foods that will spice up your heart-healthy diet!
Nuts are one of the easiest and tastiest foods that you can incorporate into your diet! They can be consumed whole or in nut butter form and they definitely pack a punch when it comes to nutrition. They’re full of antioxidants, which can help prevent chronic diseases and have anticarcinogenic properties. Plus, they contain lots of vitamins and minerals that are essential for our bodies. Walnuts are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, and even decrease the risk of heart failure!
The American Heart Association recommends eating 4 servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts each week and defines a serving as a handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Prep Dish meal plans rely heavily on nuts, for example: a handful for a snack, ground up as a crust for fish or chicken, nut butters as a dip for fresh cut veggies, and added crunch in side salads.
Believe it or not, sweet potatoes can actually make a positive, nutritious addition to your diet! In fact, the Cleveland Clinic, the top heart hospital in the country, placed the sweet potato on their list of the top 40 foods for heart health! Sweet potatoes contain more Vitamin A and Vitamin C than white potatoes, which can act as antioxidants in our body. Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes contain almost as much potassium and magnesium, which both help regulate blood pressure. Love sweet potato fries? We suggest our popular baked sweet potato wedges for a healthier spin on the fried version. Or our simple roasted sweet potato recipe.
Berries are filled with nutrients that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and keep your heart strong. In fact, studies have found that the benefits of berries range from lower chances of heart attacks to increasing HDL cholesterol while lowering blood pressure. Berries contain an antioxidant flavonoid called anthocyanin, which is able to the risk of heart disease through its effects on platelets, blood vessels, and lipoproteins. Berries are also packed with antioxidants, fiber, and potassium, which makes them an essential addition to a heart-healthy diet! We love using berries in our recipes, aside from frequent use in breakfast items like muffins and breakfast bowls, we commonly toss berries into side salads, favorite combos include: strawberries + pecans + feta, blueberries + sliced almonds, raspberries + walnuts + goat cheese.
Good news for chocolate lovers: dark chocolate (in moderation) could be beneficial to your heart! This is mainly attributed to the presence of flavonoids in the cocoa bean. Flavonols, the main type of flavonoid present in the cocoa bean, has antioxidant qualities and have been shown to impact the heart in other ways, such as through lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and making blood platelets less sticky. Chocolates that have undergone the least processing are more likely to contain more flavonols; your best bet is to stick with dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Remember: feel free to enjoy a sweet treat a few times a week, but always keep it in moderation.
Have a Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day!
What is your favorite way to add heart-healthy foods into your diet? Share your ideas and pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as @prepdish in all 3 places, or leave a comment below.