Health Talk
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Healthy Food for a Healthy Heart

7February is Heart Month for more than one reason! The Heart and Stroke Association encourages Canadians throughout February to think about their heart health.

Research definitely shows that following a plan for healthy eating can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower already elevated blood pressure. In one case, blood pressure was lowered within 2 weeks of changing to a diet that was rich in vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy foods lower in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to find heart healthy foods! Here is a list of 15

  1. Eat fish high in omega-3s, e.g. salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout.
  2. Healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts.
  3. Berries that are full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fibre such as blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries.
  4. Flaxseeds, which also contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fibre boost heart health. Take them in ground or milled form for the greatest benefit.
  5. Oatmeal, truly a comfort-food and a nutrient powerhouse.
  6. Dark beans, like kidney or black beans
  7. A 4-ounce glass of red wine (up to two for men and one for women per day) can help improve good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  8. Tofu
  9. Potatoes (as long as they are not fried!) are rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure, plus – they’re high in fibre,
  10. Red, yellow and orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and acorn squash
  11. Spinach packs a punch! Use it in sandwiches and salads instead of lettuce.
  12. Fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya that are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
  13. Tender, sweet asparagus
  14. Tomatoes – and sun-dried (or canned) in winter months.
  15. Dark chocolate  but be sure that it’s at least 70 percent cocoa.

 

Heart Healthy Snack? Try these out.

  • Raw or partially steamed broccoli florets, carrots and red peppers, dipped in hummus have a whopping list of nutrients, including vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fibre.
  • Popcorn (without heavy oil or butter or salt). Gram for gram, popcorn boasts three times more polyphenols than kidney beans (the highest vegetable polyphenol source) and four times more than cranberries (the best fruit source), according to recent research out of the University of Scranton.
  • Apple slices. Spread with peanut butter and a sprinkling of raisins.
  • Yogurt Sunday. Dress up a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt (choose one with no added sugar) by topping it with crushed whole wheat cereal, sliced banana, and unsalted sunflower seeds

Get active!

  • In addition to diet, keeping your heart healthy means lowering salt intake and increasing physical activity.