5 super foods for your heart

December 15, 2015 | by Ann Davis, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Move over whole grain pasta. Step aside fruits and veggies. Make room for five super foods that keep your heart healthy and strong.

You are what you eat, especially when it comes to your heart. We're discovering new things about food all the time, and it's important to adjust our diet to include food that offers benefits in the fight against heart disease.

Before your next trip to the grocery store, be sure to add these super foods to your list:

Blueberries, ½ cup daily
These little gems are high in antioxidants, potassium and fiber, and help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Choose fresh or frozen and look for dark-colored berries, which contain a higher level of antioxidants.

Sardines, 3 ounces, 2-3 times a week
Sardines may not be the prettiest fish in the sea but they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help push the bad cholesterol through your arteries. Not crazy about sardines? Opt for other fatty fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel.

Legumes, ½ cup daily
Beans are low-fat and high in folic acid and potassium. They are an excellent source of high-soluble fiber that bind to bad cholesterol so it doesn't travel to your arteries. Legumes are very filling, but they can be difficult to digest so thoroughly rinse the beans. If you have trouble digesting legumes, start eating small quantities and gradually increase your serving size over time.

Nuts, ½ cup daily
Nuts can be high in calories but when you choose wisely, the heart health benefits are numerous. Nuts contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for lowering cholesterol. Certain nuts, such as almonds, are high in vitamin E, an excellent source of antioxidants.

Quinoa (pronounced keen’-wah), several times weekly
This is one of the most nutritious foods around. One cup cooked contains five grams of fiber and eight grams of "complete" protein, and provides your body with all of the essential amino acids you need. Quinoa is an antioxidant, gluten free, and an excellent source of iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E and several other nutrients.

The recommended serving sizes for these foods aren't very large, so a person doesn't have to go overboard to experience the health benefits. Your age doesn't matter either — the earlier you start incorporating certain nutrients into your lifestyle, the bigger advantage you'll give to your heart. 

Find out if you’re at risk for heart disease. Take a free five-minute test that could save your life.

Learn more about heart care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Ann Davis, MD, is a cardiologist with Edward Hospital and Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group.

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