One of the best things you can do to manage and improve your heart health, or overall health for that matter, is to be mindful of the foods that you eat. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two of the simplest ways you can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
There’s a stigma that eating healthy is boring and that the foods aren’t flavorful as less nutritious alternatives, but in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. And summer is the perfect season to start trying to incorporate more whole foods into your diet, like fruits and vegetables. To help you get started, here are five summer foods for heart health you should add to your next grocery list:
Avocados are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Ounce for ounce, they are among the richest in fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium among all fruits. This nutrition profile makes it a worthy superfood for those trying to improve their heart health.
A mashed avocado provides a healthy alternative to mayonnaise or butter. You can use it as alone as a dip, spread it on sandwiches, add slices to wraps or burritos, or add chunks to salads.
With so many varieties, tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods on our list. Most tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and also may help lower bad cholesterol). Add some fresh tomatoes to your next salad, served them sliced alongside your eggs at breakfast, or if you’re feeling ambitious, try making homemade pasta sauce.
No one wants to heat up their house in the middle of summer by cutting on their oven every day, which means summertime is grilling season. Avoid red meats that like beef which are high in saturated fats and opt for chicken, vegetable proteins, and fish. The unsaturated fats in fish, such as salmon, actually have health benefits
Eating 4 ounces of wild-caught salmon twice a week provides you with an adequate intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids which can help lower the risk of sudden cardiac death, reduce blood clot formation, inhibit the growth of plaque along artery walls and decrease triglycerides.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping the cheeseburger and opting for a salad instead. But, not all salads are as nutritious as many like to think. When choosing greens for your salad base, go for dark leafy greens that are nutrient-dense like red or green leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, Swiss chard or spinach. These varieties are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
But don’t feel as though dark leafy greens are only for salads. Get creative with how you incorporate them into your diet. Add a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie, add them to your next hot or cold pasta, or ditch the sandwich bread for large leaf lettuce as a wrap.
5. Fresh Fruit
Fresh, seasonal fruits are arguably one of the best parts of summer. Fruit-rich diets can help lower your blood pressure and the water in fresh fruits keeps you hydrated on hot summer days. Melons, berries, peaches, plums and cherries are all nutrient-rich summertime fruits. If possible, head to your local farmers market or purchase direct from a local farmer to get fruit at its peak of flavor.
For More Information
While incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet this summer (and throughout the year) is a great way to improve your heart health, it’s important to consider how you prepare these foods. For the maximum nutritional benefits, try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground
Dr. Farhan Majeed of Pulse: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute specializes in diagnosing and treating common cardiovascular conditions and offers valuable insight into how you can lower your risk of developing them. To schedule an appointment, call (941) 629-2111.