Ten Great Foods for a Heart Smart Life
By Martin Brown
Based on this misperception, you may actually believe that, to lose weight, all you have to do is eat less of whatever it is you’ve been eating. Cutback, from a full bowl of ice cream to just half of a bowl, or eat a doughnut every other day. Junk food is junk food no matter what size portion it comes in or how frequently, or infrequently you eat it.
The other great fallacy is the idea that food that is good for you doesn’t taste good.
Once again, this is just flat wrong.
Last month on SMW’s Health Channel, we ran a series of articles about the importance of getting fit, and staying fit. Now, in the weeks leading up to the holiday season, I’d like to focus on the types of food choices we make—because that has the greatest affect on both your weight, and your health.
In fact, often we’ll give more thought to the fortune cookie we’ll pull from the bowl than the foods we put into our mouths.
Sad, isn’t it?
In reality, good health begins with choosing good foods. And these ten foods are a great, heart smart place to start:
Food #1: Oatmeal
Begin each day with a hot bowl of oatmeal. Lots of people suggest steel-cut oatmeal over the instant because it has a high fiber content. My thought, however, is that if you’re like me and you prefer the taste and the ease of preparation of one-minute oatmeal, go for that instead. There are plenty of opportunities during the day to make up for additional fiber. Plus, oatmeal is a base on which you can heap so many healthy things that are good for you, including—
Food #2: Cinnamon
It’s great on top of oatmeal, and believe it or not, it’s a health food, too: In recent tests it was shown to reduce fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29%, triglycerides by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%.
A word of caution: large doses work as a blood thinner. If you already take prescription thinners, such as Wayfarin, stay away from it and check with your doctor.
Foods #3: Berries
Specifically blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. These fruits are all great for vascular health. Have them in the morning or cut them up for a delicious snack or dessert anytime of the day.
Food #4. Salmon
Sit down to salmon for lunch or dinner; it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, and you should have salmon once or twice a week. Along side that salmon make yourself a spinach salad. That will more than make up for the fiber you lost with your instant oatmeal.
Foods #5: Vegetables
You just knew this would make the list, right? Well sure, why not? Studies consistently find that people who have two to three servings of vegetables per day have 25% fewer heart attacks and that percentage keeps increasing dramatically with the addition of even more fruits and vegetables. In the age of washed and prepackaged dark green veggies such as broccoli and spinach can be a quick easy choice, and baby washed and peeled carrots make a quick between meal pick me up. And while you’er at it, spread a teaspoon full of…
Food #6: Flaxseed
Very high in Vitamin B1 and Magnesium, initial studies suggest that flaxseed, taken in your diet, may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers as well as save your heart.
Foods #7: Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews
These nuts are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. And, speaking of nature’s omega-3 gifts, don’t forget…
Food #8: Legumes
Lentils, chickpeas, black and kidney beans are zero fat and low in calories—all great for a heart smart diet.
Food #9: Avocados
Chopped into salads, crushed into guacamole, or sliced and put on a sandwich or another smart choice because they will lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol. Olive oil, like avocados are proof that your heart loves certain foods, high in fats. Again, this is a food that lowers bad cholesterol, and helps to promote a healthy heart.
Food #10: Soy
Hey, don’t tell me you don’t like the taste. From braised tofu, to edamame (soy beans in the shell) to soymilk (there is even a chocolate flavored variety) to a wonderful variety of soy-based vegetarian products, including Soy Joy ice cream (I DARE you to taste the difference between it and regular chocolate ice cream) soy is not only delicious, it’s all-low in saturated fat, while still providing a great source of protein.
In two weeks we’ll return to the issue of healthy foods with a look at the Mediterranean diet, which is not only heart smart but an effective tool in the fight against cancer as well.
Obviously the foods that I’ve discussed in this article are just a start on a healthy diet, but remember one simple fact: make fruits and vegetables your favorite foods and chances are you will live a long life loving the body you’re in.
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