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Eat These Words!

February 17th, 2012 - By Fit Staff

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Rebecca Stack, MPH, RD, LDN from Bryn Mawr Hospital offers these five foods for heart health.

Almonds: Almonds contain fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and monounsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol free and heart healthy as they help reduce fat build-up in the arteries by lowering LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and decreasing artery inflammation. Toss a handful into your morning oatmeal, use on top of salads or eat alone as a healthy snack. Be sure to watch portion size! 23 almonds are considered 1 serving size (about 1 ounce).

Salmon: Salmon contains a high amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis – or hardening of artery walls – by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood fats (also known as triglycerides) which helps lower one’s risk of a heart attack. Aim for at least two to three 4-ounce servings a week. Heart healthy cooking preparations include baking, broiling, steaming or poaching.

Peanut Butter
Monounsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and one’s overall risk of stroke and heart disease. Main sources of monounsaturated fat in the American diet include olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and peanut butter. Choosing olive oil and canola oil, for example, over butter and lard can help lower total cholesterol. Try sautéing vegetables in olive oil, or dipping some bread in olive oil instead of going for that pat of butter.

Potatoes: Potatoes have high amounts of potassium, which helps regulate and control blood pressure. The skin also provides fiber to keep your digestive tract moving! Just last year, the American Heart Association certified that fresh Idaho potatoes meet its criteria for foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Try pairing sliced red potatoes with onion, drizzle with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil and bake.

Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in cell-protecting antioxidants – natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. Short-term clinical trials have shown dark chocolate to help reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow and help prevent plaque formation in arteries. In addition, dark chocolate and cocoa have a low-glycemic index which helps keep blood sugars in check! Once again, portion size and moderation is a key component to any eating plan. An appropriate serving size is 1 ounce of dark chocolate.

Other Heart Healthy Tips

Menu translation:
Low fat preparations: Baked, broiled, garden fresh, grilled, in its own juice, poached, roasted, steamed.
Preparations with added fat: au gratin, basted, braised, in butter sauce, in cheese sauce, in cream sauce, creamed, crispy, fried, pan fried, in its own gravy, hollandaise, scalloped.

Heart Avocado Photo by Flicker user Southern Fairytale (Rachel) / CC BY-NC 2.0
Almonds Photo by Flicker user HealthAliciousNess / CC BY-NC 2.0
Salmon Photo by Flicker user gkdavie / CC BY-NC 2.0
Peanut Butter and Spoon Photo by Flicker user Greatist / CC BY-NC 2.0
Heart Shaped Potato Photo by Flicker user Rain Rabbit / CC BY-NC 2.0
Dark Chocolate Photo by Flicker user Boz Bros / CC BY-NC 2.0

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