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10 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet

Every year in the United States, heart disease causes one in four deaths. Fortunately, heart disease can often be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices and management of underlying health conditions. The American Heart Association and its partners created American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how you can prevent it. 

At Neil Furman, DO, we know that the foods you eat can be your best protection against heart disease. As an experienced primary care doctor, Dr. Furman helps patients in North Miami Beach, Florida, live heart-healthy lives with easy-to-implement changes. 

Our team created this guide to share with you 10 heart-healthy foods to add to your diet to protect your heart and keep it beating strong all year long. 

1. Eat your (dark leafy) greens!

Incorporating dark, leafy greens into your diet is one of the best things you can do for your heart. These foods are chock-full of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, like folate, that are good for your heart and your overall health. You can sauté, roast, or grill these greens and add them to your favorite dishes to enhance the flavor and your heart health. 

2. Focus on good fats

Although there are many benefits to cutting back your overall fat intake, the good fats found in nuts and seeds are rich in the factors, like omega-3 fatty acids, that help improve your cholesterol and keep you free from cardiovascular disease. Try adding walnuts, unsalted sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds to your salad, and look for nut-based spreads and milk to boost your good fat intake. 

3. Opt for oats and other whole grains

Oats add much-needed beta-glucan, a type of fiber, to your diet, which not only helps you digest your food better, but has been linked to the prevention of stroke and heart attack. Opt for oats and other whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat. Whole-grain foods keep the good stuff, like bran, which ensures they’re higher in fiber and other nutrients that keep you healthy.

4. Pass the legumes and beans!

Legumes and beans aren’t only a great source of protein and fiber. They’re also full of the nutrients you need to keep your heart healthy, like potassium, B vitamins, and non-heme iron. These power-packed packages come with a wide variety of phytochemicals that protect against cardiovascular disease.  

5. Snack on berries

There’s good news if you like these sweet, colorful treats. Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, contain chemical compounds scientists believe help protect your heart by protecting blood vessels and regulate blood pressure. By snacking on berries at least three times a week, you can reap these benefits.  

6. Add in avocado

Unlike most other fruits, avocados are full of heart-healthy fats instead of sugars. They’re also rich in other nutrients linked to improved heart health, like potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Decades of research indicate avocados help improve the health of your heart by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Add avocado to your meals by spreading it on toast, tossing it in salads, and blending it in smoothies. 

7. Go gaga for garlic

Garlic is grown all over the world and is a common ingredient in many dishes worldwide. But garlic offers more than just flavor. Numerous studies show the sulfur compounds and other components found in this little plant bring their health benefits all over your body, including to your heart.

8. Indulge in dark chocolate

Americans spend billions of dollars on chocolate every year. This year, when you reach for a sweet treat, indulge in heart-healthy dark chocolate instead. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which studies indicate are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. Look for chocolate that’s at least 70% dark and low in added sugar. 

9. Try plant-based proteins

Reducing your intake of animal protein does wonders for your heart. Research shows plant-based proteins decrease bad cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure. Instead of focusing on what you aren’t eating, focus on the amazing flavors of plant-based proteins. Try an edamame-based stir fry, a hearty lentil stew, or a veggie burger instead of meat-based options. 

10. Eat the rainbow

Improve overall wellness and heart health by thinking about eating the rainbow. Colorful fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and healthy blood pressure. Try adding veggies to dishes you already love, like frozen peas to mac and cheese, roasting them for optimal flavor, or blending them into smoothies. 

Ready to learn more about protecting your heart health?

If you want to learn more about how your diet affects your heart health and what changes you can make to ensure your heart stays as healthy as possible, the team at Neil Furman, DO, can help. Contact our North Miami Beach office, or book an appointment online now!

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