Heart Healthy Foods
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S., doesn't discriminate: While it tends to strike men earlier, it affects both genders.
The good news is many cases of stroke and heart attacks are preventable through lifestyle changes. For example, a healthy diet can help prevent heart disease, and some foods are lauded by dietitians as playing an especially important role in keeping your ticker humming. Here are some great foods for heart health.
Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber that's been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and carry excess cholesterol out of the body. To get this benefit, a person needs three grams of soluble fiber per day (about 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Fatty fish including salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to help lower triglyceride levels, reduce the risk of blood clots, reduce the overall risk for heart attacks, and lower blood pressure levels. A six-ounce fillet of wild salmon has about 60 fewer calories than farm raised salmon and half the fat. Other healthy fish options include mackerel, fresh albacore tuna, Atlantic herring, sardines and lake trout.
Walnuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fat — the kind that's been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lowers the production of LDL cholesterol in the body. They're also a vegetarian source of omega-3s, making them a boon for people who don't eat fish.
Avocado is full of healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain phytosterols which can lower LDL (bad cholesterol.)
Low-fat dairy products can help prevent high blood pressure.