HEART TO HEART: Top 10 Foods That Promote Heart Health

Life & Love | By Justin D Joseph | 02/05/2013 | 06:00 AM EST

There's always a heightened level of attentiveness to of heart health during February (American Heart Month), but, taking care of your heart's health should be on-going. It's extremely important to incorporate regular exercise and a healthy diet into your lifestyle year round. Don't have time to exercise? Make changes to your diet. Lost on ideas? Check out these ten foods that will help your heart, and offer additional health benefits.

1. Blueberries

Oh the power this little fruit has. Packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants; blueberries are known to prevent blood clots and reduce artery inflammation. Not a fan of them? Strawberries have similar benefits as well. Include blueberries in a smoothie for breakfast and you are sure to find yourself feeling energized. Try this recipe:

2. Avocado

This green treat is packed with healthy monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL levels. Infused with vitamin E, fiber, folic acid, and vitamin B; its perfect on a salad or as a dip (guacamole anyone?).

3. Oranges

Oranges contain pectin, a soluble fiber that sops up cholesterol in food and blocks its absorption. The potassium in oranges helps counterbalance salt, and keeps blood pressure under control.

4. Kale

This dark leafy green boasts a bevy of heart-healthy antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin E. All of which create a coating that aids against plaque sticking to the arteries.

5. Dark Chocolate

This semi-sweet treat is rich in compounds called flavanols, which improve blood vessel flexibility. We can all get them from chocolate--a few squares a day

6. Almonds

The plant sterols in these nuts help reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, while the unsaturated oils encourage healthy and balanced cholesterol levels

7. Sardines

This cold water fish contains some of the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids---good fats that lower harmful triglycerides, raise protective HDL (High-density lipoprotein), reduce potentially fatal heart arrhythmias, and tamp down inflammation

8. Lentils

Packed with lean vegetable protein and fiber, lentils are considered a dietary must in the fight against heart disease. They also contain folate, magnesium, and potassium---the latter two of which fight hypertension.

9. Red Wine

Most alcohol boost HDL, the "good" cholesterol in the body that prevents plaque buildup in the arteries. However red wine contains compounds called polyphenols that help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting. While red wine is good for you, it is not so good when consumed excessively. In this case, one glass will do ya.

10. Garlic

Much like medications that lower high blood pressure, garlic helps reduce angiotensin, an enzyme which constricts blood vessels.

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Categories: Life_Love, Health_Fitness

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