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The best and worst foods for your heart

Posted on February 16 2012

Heart month is going strong and you’re making the effort to eat healthier and exercise, but what can you do to give your ticker an extra edge? We took a look at some of the best and worst foods for your heart to keep in mind while reading nutrition labels in the aisles of the grocery store or your local farmer’s market. BEST FOODS FOR YOUR HEART Heart health tips

Apples Besides the crisp and satisfying crunch, studies have shown that apples contribute to a lower risk of suffering from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants found in apples help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries, and fans of Red Delicious and Granny Smith have the lowest risk of suffering from a stroke. The source of fiber can also contribute to lower cholesterol levels and has plenty of vitamin C. Tomatoes Another excellent choice from the produce aisle, tomatoes are a great source of potassium, fiber and vitamins C and A. Although it is usually recommended to consume raw produce for maximum nutritional value, cooking tomatoes increases it's lycopene levels. Whole grains Bad news for gluten-free readers, but people who tend to eat more whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease. Chock full of soluble fiber, whole grains can contribute to lower cholesterol levels, as well as a lower risk of heart disease – by 40%! Salmon Over a lifetime, dishing up two or more servings of fish or our favorite catch of the day can result in a 30% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease in the long-term. The omega-3 fats in salmon and other “oily” kinds of fish help prevent blood clotting, as well as lowering blood pressure slightly and preventing irregular heart rhythms. Chocolate As a caveat, we recommend self-control. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, in moderate amounts can help reduce inflammation to boost the immune system. Full of flavanols that help keep your blood vessels healthy, eating a healthy dose of dark chocolate can lower your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. And no, your peanut butter cups and kisses don’t count, reach for the dark chocolate. WORST FOODS FOR YOUR HEART Trans and saturated fat It’s label time! Just like we recommended when evaluating a nutrition label, avoid these fats! Trans fats can raise the level of bad cholesterol in your body and lower the level of good cholesterol, while saturated fats can also raise the level of bad cholesterol in your blood and lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. The best way to avoid trans fat in your diet is to take out items that contain any form of “hydrogenated oil” from your grocery list. Opt for low- or non-fat versions of dairy products and limit the amount of beef, pork and lamb in your diet to help keep your daily intake to less than two grams of trans fat. Swap your poultry and fish choices for leaner options and trade in butter for vegetable-based oils, such as olive and canola oil. Salt The simplest flavor to add to your meal is the leading cause of double chins in America. Cutting down how much your sprinkle on your food can help you lower your blood pressure. Replace processed foods with fresh foods, and only add salt for taste once the food has reached your plate. Added sugars The American Heart Association recommends that women should try to eat no more than 100 calories per day of added sugar, and men should eat less than 150 calories to help lower their risk for high blood pressure, a factor in developing heart disease. According to EatingWell.com, the common culprits include “corn sweetener or syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and syrup and sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).” Good luck! Source

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