When it comes to keeping our bodies healthy much of it comes down to diet. You can run, climb, or lift as much as you’d like but it will only take you so far if you are not feeding your body the foods it needs. The American Heart Association has stated that almost one-third of all deaths are related to heart disease so if there’s one part of the body you want to start feeding correctly, consider the heart. Here a the top heart-healthy foods to keep your ticker ticking as it should.
Top 10 Heart-Healthy Foods:
- Leafy Green Vegetables: There’s the usual suspects like spinach and kale but don’t forget green heart-healthy foods like broccoli! Shop around if you need variety, Asian grocers usually stock a multitude of beautiful greens.
- Whole Grains: A wholegrain includes the germ, endosperm and bran so you’re receiving all the benefits of the plant – especially healthy fibre. Go for whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, barley and quinoa.
- Berries: Fresh or frozen is best as dried fruits are often hiding more sugar than is necessary.
- Fatty Fish: Aim to add fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna to your diet twice a week. As with all animal products, ensure they’re caught as sustainably and ethically as possible.
- Avocados: Avo on toast may be a millennial fad but it turns out it is a great choice – just ensure your toast is wholewheat (this could include a rye flour based bread) to keep the meal full of heart-healthy foods.
- Nuts: Tree nuts high in healthy oils are the ones you want to reach for here, think walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.
- Seeds: Our favourites are chia seeds and hemp seeds as they’re an easy addition to smoothies, salads and breakfast bowls. Flaxseeds are high up on heart-healthy foods chart too, however our bodies need them to be ground down to absorb all their benefits!
- Pulses and Legumes: Some pulses and legumes can be a bit difficult for one’s stomach so you’ll have to experiment what works best for you.
- Tomatoes: One of the most versatile and affordable vegetables (or fruit!), and some of the easiest to grow at home, makes the tomato a no-brainer to stock up on. And they go well with fatty fish, like in this recipe for Oven Roasted Salmon, and with beans too, like in this recipe for a White Bean Salad.
- Green tea: Ok not so much a heart-healthy food as it is a heart-healthy drink. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice in if you battle with the taste of green tea.
Why this list?
Research has shown that these are heart-healthy foods for one or more of the following reasons: they protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, contain micronutrients that have proven to support heart health (e.g. potassium, magnesium, copper, magnese), are high in antioxidants, are associated with lowering bad cholesterol and/or lowering blood pressure.
Remember, it is not about fully restricting yourself. It is about being aware of what is good, what is better and what is not-so-good and living in balance within these.
Joëlle Davidson is Woman and Home’s Editorial Assistant whose two cats are very pleased she is typing from home these days. When Joëlle isn’t typing or reading she can be found enjoying the beauty of Cape Town’s outdoors. Or just the beauty of her favourite wine bar.