9 Foods To Help You Build A Healthy Heart

By:    Published: July 20, 2012

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Odds are you're already pretty smart about avoiding the foods that are not very heart healthy like: fatty meats, butter, gravy, fried foods, cakes, pies and fast food in general. But even if you know which foods to avoid, that doesn't necessarily mean you know which foods are the best for your heart. Here is a list of some of the best heart-healthy foods. Instead of simply avoiding heart disease with your food choices, you can start to actively prevent it by making these foods a staple in your diet.

1. Salmon

Many people on a heart-healthy diet miss the meats that they used to consume regularly. However, salmon can be a great substitute when you're craving a little protein. With plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, this fish can help reduce your blood pressure and prevent blood clotting. Opt for wild salmon over farm-raised varieties whenever possible in order to maximize the health benefits of this heart-healthy food.

2. Olive Oil

An easy tip that can make a big impact for people with heart health concerns is to replace butter, margarine, salad dressings and other sauces with olive oil whenever possible. Using this oil when cooking or dressing your food can pack in just as much flavor without the bad fats. Olive oil has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease in several studies.

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the best whole grains you can choose for your diet. While all whole grains are a good choice, oatmeal offers the added benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, fiber and folate. Eating oatmeal regularly can cut down your LDL cholesterol levels and help clear up your arteries. When shopping for oatmeal, make sure you buy the coarse or steel-cut varieties instead of instant oatmeal.

4. Flaxseed

Like oatmeal, flaxseed is one of the best whole grains for keeping your heart in great shape. With plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, it's no wonder that flaxseed is essential for preventing heart problems. When flaxseed is ground up, it can be mixed in with a wide variety of foods and go almost unnoticed while still providing the same health benefits.

5. Nuts

Walnuts, peanuts and almonds are all great choices for a snack if you want to build a healthy heart. These are a great food for adding healthy fats to your diet, plus they are packed with great nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and folate.

6. Beans

Add some kidney or black beans to your diet for a great protein boost that doesn't have the unwanted fats of some other protein sources. These beans are excellent sources of the B-complex vitamins along with folate, magnesium, niacin, calcium, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

7. Spinach

Loaded with B-complex vitamins, lutein, magnesium, potassium, calcium, folate and fiber, spinach is a treasure trove if you want a vegetable with great health benefits. Always opt for this softer, darker leafy green as opposed to lighter lettuces like iceberg. Eating spinach regularly can help reduce your risk for heart disease.

8. Berries

Shop for fresh berries to add to your diet the next time you visit the grocery store. These super-fruits are perfect for adding beta-carotenes, lutein, anthocyanin, ellagic acid and other heart-healthy nutrients to your diet. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, you name it - all of these fruits are great anti-inflammatories, which helps to reduce your risk for heart disease.

9. Avocados

Avocados are listed among a group of "good" fats that are great for a heart-healthy diet. One of the key advantages that this food provides is improved absorption of beta-carotene and lycopene, both of which are very important for keeping your ticker in top form. Additionally, the monounsaturated fats in avocados may lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels.

If you have concerns about your risk for heart disease or other heart problems, consult a physician. Additionally, you should ensure that any diet changes you make are safe and healthy. Consult your doctor if you have any questions concerning heart-healthy food choices.

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