Did you know that the top heart healthy foods are also the densest in nutrients?
They are readily available, extremely affordable and they taste great They often require very little preparation and deliver a very high per-calorie level of nutritious phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, fiber and other natural health goodies.
Incredibly, these foods naturally deliver fewer calories and carbs then their sugary, man-made, processed counterparts in almost every case.
Most are natural whole foods, and can be grown right in your backyard or on your patio. They are also high in dietary fiber much of the time, meaning you feel full quicker, end up eating less, and reap incredible cardiovascular as well as total body benefits.
No doubt the following list of the top 14 heart healthy foods is going to be very familiar to you.
And benefiting from them is simple – just get more of them in your diet, using them to replace sugar, salt, white flour and other processed, fatty, fast foods. Your waistline and heart will benefit, you will feel and look great, and possibly even form a positive addiction to these healthy super foods.
Almonds are high in fat, so how can they be good for you? The answer is, they deliver “good” fats, protein and essential fatty acids. By lowering your “bad” cholesterol (your LDL cholesterol levels), almonds help reduce your risk of getting heart disease. Also, since they are so dense, a small handful helps you feel full quickly. When added to a meal or a snack, any weightlifting or exercising you do helps you gain lean, strong muscle as well. Walnuts are heart-healthy also. (Natural almond butter is a great alternative if you do not enjoy eating nuts.)
In recent years the incredible “all-around” health properties of kale have come to light. This versatile dark leafy green can be cooked or eaten raw. Fresh leaves of kale drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt can be baked into incredibly delicious kale chips. Kale is easily added to salads, and is miles ahead of iceberg lettuce in healthy nutrition.
What heart benefits do you receive from kale? As Dr. Joel Fuhrman and most other nutritionists will tell you, this is truly a “superfood”. Eating kale boosts your production of heart healthy antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids. Your heart benefits by working more efficiently, becoming healthier and resisting disease and infection.
You probably know that oranges are high in vitamin C. That is a good thing. But they also deliver nutritional soluble fiber called pectin. This amazing natural compound actually works like a big sponge, absorbing cholesterol and keeping it from entering your body. That is definitely heart healthy. Also, oranges are high in potassium. Potassium is great for countering the negative effects of salt, and this property can keep your blood pressure at a decent level.
Grilled salmon offers a taste and texture that is enjoyable to many people without the addition of salt, condiments and unhealthy sauces.
You can also grill salmon with a little extra virgin olive oil and enjoy it on a sandwich, in a wrap, on a salad or with some healthy whole grains.
Salmon is very flexible as a food item, and along with sardines and tuna (wild, not farm-raised) is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
The human body cannot manufacture Omega 3. This means you must obtain it in your diet. Salmon and some other fish are extremely high in this naturally beneficial component, and reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease according to the Mayo Clinic, the American Heart Association and other respected health authorities.
Garlic has been known for its health properties for centuries. Garlic is also extremely versatile. It can be cooked or ingested raw, and does a great job of lowering the levels of an enzyme called angiotensin in your body. Angiotensin constricts blood vessels, so when you get plenty of garlic in your diet, your heart does not have to work as hard to pump normally. Garlic has also been shown to reduce the buildup of plaque in your cardiovascular system.
Have you seen the rash of pomegranate-based beverages and supplements that claim incredible health benefits? Natural, unprocessed pomegranates and the juice from this purple superfood are exceptionally good for you. Just be aware of pomegranate products that have been processed, with artificial flavors, sugars and other unhealthy man-made chemicals added.
Aside from lowering your LDL levels (which is a good thing), pomegranates prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. This means you form less plaque in your cardiovascular system, making your heart stronger and healthier.
7) Red Wine
In moderation, red wine bumps up your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. This helps prevent plaque buildup, much like garlic.
As explained by John Folts, Professor Emeritus of Cardiovascular Medicine and Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, polyphenols found in a high concentration in red wine make your blood vessels very flexible.
This reduces your risk of clotting, and helps your heart combat a long list of diseases. (Not more than 1 glass of wine 3 to 5 days a week is recommended.)
Research shows that a diet with above average levels of yogurt protects against gum disease. Over time gum disease can elevate your risk of heart disease, by almost 100% above normal. This roundabout benefit that yogurt delivers to your heart is made possible through the presence of “good bacteria” called probiotics, which also offer the positive side effect of contributing to a healthy gastrointestinal system.
9) Brown Rice and Oatmeal
Along with similar foods like flaxseed, oatmeal and healthy brown rice (as opposed to processed, enriched, nutrient-free white rice) are full of healthy dietary fiber. They also provide essential nutrients like potassium, folate, niacin, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Your heart once again benefits from a healthy cardiovascular process, and does not have to work as hard to pump blood and valuable oxygen throughout your body. This increases your chances of living a long, healthy life, while decreasing your risk of contracting heart diseases and cancer.
10) Natural Dark Chocolate
We are definitely referring to natural dark chocolates here, not sugar and chemical-packed sweet chocolate treats. There are plenty of health studies that show the positive heart benefits of the flavanols found in minimally processed cocoa.
Harvard cardiologist Dr. Norman Hollenberg found that the Kuna Indians of Panama have extremely few cases of high blood pressure and hypertension. Their secret? Cocoa made from dark chocolate. Your heart benefits from improved blood vessel flexibility from just a few small squares of natural dark chocolate eaten daily.
11) Kidney Beans and Black Beans
Most legumes are very healthy, and deserve a place in your diet. Like the other foods on this list incredibly high in dense dietary fiber, you only have to eat a very small amount to feel full quickly. That fiber is naturally soluble, and joins calcium, B complex vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids as heart healthy components.
As far as dining possibilities, there might not be a more versatile and flexible food than beans. Tossed in your salad, used to make a healthy paste, spread or soup, or simply enjoyed by themselves, black beans and kidney beans lower your risk of death from heart disease and fight hypertension. They also help keep your blood pressure under control.
Just like yogurt, research is showing that raisins limit your risk of contracting gum disease. They also fight inflammation throughout your body. As we mentioned previously, if you have gum disease you are up to 2 times more likely to suffer from heart problems. Several studies have shown the link between inflammation and a long list of heart diseases and afflictions, so enjoy a handful of raisins a day to keep heart problems at bay.
13) Whole grains
A high-fiber diet has been proved to drastically lower your risk of heart disease. Harvard researchers showed that a high-fiber diet enjoyed by female health professionals produced a 40% lower risk of contracting heart disease than participants who ate less fiber. The benefit? Your LDL cholesterol level is lowered, meaning a healthy blood pressure and a lower risk of heart problems. The black and kidney beans we mentioned earlier classify as high-fiber food items, and so do barley and other whole grains.
Blueberries are known among the health and fitness communities as one of the most perfect super foods in existence. From beta-carotene and lutein to vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, not to mention high levels of dietary fiber, blueberries are good for you in a number of ways.
Strawberries, raspberries and cranberries are healthy too, but there are not too many foods that can match blueberries for heart health. This delicious and versatile berry is high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which fight cancer and chronic heart disease. You also run a lower risk of having a heart attack when blueberries are a consistent part of your diet.
You were probably already aware that most of the foods listed above are good for you. So why aren’t you getting more of them in your diet? You just learned the exact benefits that eating those delicious, natural foods deliver. In many cases, you experience many wonderful health benefits in addition to improving your cardiovascular system and heart health.
Your skin and hair instantly become stronger and healthier looking. You experience less inflammation, aches and pains in your joints. Your flexibility and balance improve. Your thinking is clear and crisp, and your memory gets better. Your natural body weight begins to automatically regulate itself, your muscle tone and strength are noticeably better, and from head to toe you enjoy marvelous fitness and excellent health.
Make a concerted effort to eat more of the foods listed above on a weekly and even daily basis, and you will begin to feel and look better than you have in a long time.