Heart-Healthy Foods

Include foods like salmon, spinach, chickpeas, sardines and wine in your diet to keep your heart healthy and strong.
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©Eric Hood

Photo By: Tarasyuk Igor

Chickpeas

Any bean is a welcome addition to a heart-healthy diet. Black, kidney, lima, navy, pinto and garbanzo (aka chickpea) beans are all high in cholesterol-lowering fiber. Chickpeas are also packed with vitamin B-6, which helps lower homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine mean a higher risk of heart disease. Learn more about the benefits of beans.

Sardines

This underappreciated fish packs a heart-healthy punch. Sardines contain heart-healthy omega-3s like other fatty fish, but sardines with soft bones give you the added bonus of calcium and vitamin D. Both work together to help reduce the risk of heart disease (along with strengthening your bones).

Leafy Greens

A diet high in magnesium may help lower blood pressure, triglycerides and increase the healthy HDL cholesterol. Foods packed with magnesium include leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, as well as sweet potatoes, quinoa and cashews.

Wine

Whether you prefer red or white, studies conclude that a modest amount of alcohol of any kind can help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is considered 12 fluid ounce of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (like vodka or rum).

Milk

Studies show that foods high in calcium and vitamin D can help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 15 percent. Studies also show that most folks don't get enough milk each day. Add milk to smoothies, cereal and coffee, or drink a tall glass with meals and snacks.

Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are packed with omega-3 fats, which help lower triglycerides (fat in your blood) and total cholesterol. Salmon also contains vitamin B-12, which is shown to help lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

Almonds

Adding almonds to your diet has been shown to help reduce the lousy LDL and total cholesterol. Almonds can also help lower C-reactive protein, another risk factor for heart disease.

Oats

Oats have soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol. Although rolled oats may be your first choice, don't count out other forms of oats like oat bran, oat flour and steel cut oats.

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