6 Power Foods For Your Heart

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Traditionally, a low fat diet has been the prescription for heart health which causes many people to shrink away. Not anymore! The good news is there are many things you can add to your diet that can greatly improve your risk factors of heart disease. Here are 6 power foods you can start adding to your diet to keep you heart healthy!

Nuts- Although nuts aren't exactly low in calories or fat, they contain high levels of unsaturated fats that are known to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown eating about one ounce of nuts every day will reduce the risk of heart disease in the long run by 30% according to Frank Hu, MD, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Soy- Soy has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Using soy on a weekly basis is a great step towards protecting your heart. If you are not a tofu fan, try soy milk or yogurt, garden burgers, edamme (soy beans), or soy sausage patties. There are all kinds of ways to include soy in your diet!

Hot Cocoa- Yes you read right! Cocoa contains high levels of flavonoids which are a class of phytochemicals known to help prevent heart disease. Researchers have found that hot cocoa has more disease-fighting antioxidants than tea or red wine and the heat may help propel them into the bloodstream. Hot cocoa is also much lower in saturated fats than other chocolate sources such as candy bars.

Beans and Lentils- including kidney beans, peas, black beans, etc. ---are high in both soluble fiber and folic acid to help lower cholesterol and decrease homocysteine levels (high homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease).

Broccoli- A powerful antioxidant found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts may help protect the heart from high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. A new study shows the compound, called glucoraphanin, helped improve heart health, fight inflammation, and boost natural defense systems against oxidative stress.

Grape juice- The flavonoids in grape juice, like that in wine, have been shown to prevent the oxidation of so-called bad cholesterol (LDLs, or low-density lipoproteins) that leads to formation of plaque in artery walls. Grape juice can also lower the risk of developing the blood clots that lead to heart attacks.

Start adding these foods today and begin your journey to better heart health.

© Meri Raffetto, 2004

About the Author

Owner of Real Living Nutrition Services, Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian and a recognized professional in the area of nutrition and wellness. She has developed two online weight management programs, The Mini Diet Makeover and The Ultimate Diet Makeover, which focus on a healthy, non-diet approach to weight loss. For more information or to sign up for our free newsletter, visit http://www.reallivingnutrition.com.

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