Best Heart Healthy Foods
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Best Heart Healthy Foods

Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013 at 10:05 am
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Fruits and VegetablesFebruary is American Heart Month! What better time to pay extra attention to your own heart than during the month of love? What you eat directly affects how you feel and how well your body stays in shape. A healthy diet packed with whole foods, fresh vegetables, grains, fish and more will help keep your ticker ticking longer! In honor of American Heart Month, here are some foods you should stock up on and incorporate into your diet for a long and healthy life!

Oatmeal

Oats are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and folate. They also have tons of fiber, which help lower levels of bad cholesterol. Steel-cut oats contain more fiber than their instant counterparts, so it’s a better choice in the morning. Oatmeal is a great food to buy in bulk to save a little extra cash!

Salmon

Salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce blood pressure and clotting. It also has a high level of an antioxidant called astaxanthin. Research shows that eating salmon just twice a week may reduce your risk of death from a heart attack by up to one-third. It’s better to choose wild salmon over farm-raised because they are free from the insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals. If you aren’t fond of salmon, you can opt for another oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, or sardines.

Avocado and Olive Oil

Both olive oil and avocado are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They both help to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol. Avocados allow for the absorption of carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Extra-virgin or virgin olive oils are the least processed making them the best for your heart. Use it in place of butter when cooking any of your meals.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is high in fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The best thing is that flaxseed can be added to a ton of foods for an added boost. Top your oatmeal or cereal with some flaxseed, add it to your favorite baked recipes, or ground it up and hide it in a variety of foods!

Berries

Berries contain a lot of anti-inflammatories, which help lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are considered a superfood since they are high in antioxidants, but any berry variety is great for you!

Legumes

Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black or kidney beans are packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber. The best thing about legumes is they are super versatile and easy to buy in bulk for maximum savings. Add them to your favorite soup or chili.

Chocolate and Red Wine

Dark chocolate and red wines have tons of antioxidants. Both also include the flavonoid catechin. When selecting your chocolate, opt for one with 70% or greater cocoa. Chocolate and red wine complement each other, making them a great dessert choice!

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.