When it comes to keeping your ticker at the top of its game, you know the drill. Eat more fiber, lean proteins, veggies and plenty of healthy fats.
But it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. And no matter how much you enjoy them, there’s only so much steel cut oatmeal and salad you can stomach before you need a change in the routine.
It’s time to blow away the boredom. Mix things up with these six delicious and surprising snack foods for a healthy heart.
No, you’re not dreaming. It’s true we generally prefer whole fruits. And we are always warning you to limit the amount of dried fruit you eat. But in this case, occasionally snacking on raisins has more benefits than downsides.
A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry found a surprising connection between raisins and heart health. It turns out raisins contain several compounds that slow the growth of the bacteria linked to cavities and heart disease.
And another study conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center confirmed that raisins could be good for your heart health. Snacking on a small fistful three times a day can significantly lower blood pressure according to the researchers.
But don’t forget, dried fruit has a higher concentration of sugar and is far lower in fiber than the whole fruit. So when you add raisins to the lineup be sure to keep track of your overall snacking to make sure you don’t accidentally go overboard.
Turns out that old adage about apples and doctors is true. Eating more apples really could help keep the heart doctor away.
The ground-breaking Iowa’s Women Study tracked more than 34,000 women for 20 years. And among the researchers many different discoveries was this simple gem. Eating apples every day is associated with better heart health.
Apples are loaded with several different heart-protecting antioxidants, including a critical one that helps prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing… one of the biggest dangers to your heart.
Just make sure you’re buying organic apples, washing them well and eating them with the skin on. The skin is where you’re going to find the majority of the good stuff.
Because microwave popcorn is bad news, popcorn has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately. But it’s time to take popcorn off the naughty list. This whole grain treat is brimming with fiber, which your heart loves. Fiber supports healthy cholesterol and can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Plus this delicious snack is packed with plenty of heart healthy antioxidants such as polyphenols. In fact, experts say popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, reducing the body wide inflammation that can contribute to heart disease. And research has found the polyphenols you find in popcorn support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol and can slash your risk of heart disease.
Still stay away from the microwave junk and the creepy chemicals that come with it, of course. Stick with air or stove popped popcorn and try spritzing it with a bit of heart healthy olive oil and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.
Experts say there’s a link between oral health and heart health. And the bacteria in your mouth can help keep your heart healthy or cause it trouble. Which is why yogurt, which is full of good bugs, made our list of heart healthy foods.
A study out of Japan found that folks who regularly eat yogurt have far less of the trouble-making bacteria leading to better oral and heart health. Plus the probiotics in yogurt can help calm the kind of systemic inflammation that can lead to heart problems.
We suggest Greek yogurt, which is typically lower in sugar and has an excellent protein to carb ratio. Just be sure to find one that’s marked with “live and active cultures.” Try stirring in some fruit for a touch of sweetness and chia seeds for an extra punch of heart healthy soluble fiber.
If you’re a coffee fan like me, I have some fantastic news. Chances are your heart is a fan too.
Coffee contains hearty healthy polyphenols, soluble fiber and potassium. And a number of studies have found links between coffee drinking and a healthy heart
- A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, found six or more cups of coffee a day may reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by as much as 15 percent (one or two cups lowers risk by five to six percent)
- A Korean study comparing coffee drinkers who drank three to five cups a day with folks who avoided java, found the coffee drinkers had lower heart disease linked calcium deposits in their coronary arteries
- A large 10 year Swedish study found that women who drank one or more cups of coffee a day were 25 percent less likely to have a stroke than women who drank less than a cup
- Researchers from the University of Colorado medical school analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study and found coffee was linked to a lower risk of stroke, heart failure and heart disease (each cup, up to six, reduced the conditions by an additional five to eight percent)
And if you’re worried about coffee raising your blood pressure, you likely don’t have to be. When researchers took a deeper dive into existing studies on the link between coffee and blood pressure they concluded that the evidence suggests regularly drinking caffeinated coffee doesn’t increase your risk for hypertension.
Hummus doesn’t just make a delicious snack it also packs a double punch of heart support. When you whip up a batch, you’re combining heart healthy olive oil and chickpeas.
Cold pressed, organic olive oil contains omega-3s, which support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol and lower your risk for stroke and heart failure. And chickpeas are an excellent source of the kind of fiber that can help manage your LDL cholesterol.
Looking out for your heart doesn’t mean your diet has to become boring and bland. Break up your routine by eating more of these six delicious, heart healthy foods.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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