Whether you are suffering from heart problems or not, it’s an era to play safe specifically in terms of health of your heart and mind. It’s a simplified task as AHA (American Heart Association) has estimated the quantities of iron, sodium, calcium, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins and fibers present in every food.
Awareness about heart-friendly foods is definitely required. For that reason, Heart-Check Mark analysis of foods nutritional value was organized by AHA. The foods that met the standards had a red stamp of check mark on their labels.
Here, 10 heart-healthy foods have been compiled that came up to the defined nutritional criteria set by AHA and are best foods to count on to while you are choosing your food in markets.
1. Best Dry Fruit: Walnuts
Why it’s heart healthy? Walnuts and various other nuts are great sources of omega-3s which are great choice for vegetarians if they cannot go for fish. Nuts lower LDL which lowers cholesterol level. Nuts are generally rich in vitamin E, L-arginine, Plant sterols and fibers besides omega-3 fatty acids. All the contents work in combination to lower cholesterol level prevent inflammations and blood clots in arteries.
How to choose? The ingredients per serving should have the following ratio: less than 4g saturated fats, 5g of trans fat, zero cholesterol, lesser than 140 mg of sodium and more than 10% of vitamins, calcium and fiber contents.
Where is it available? In packets or in large quantities at dry fruits market, nuts are available. Chopped walnuts and other nuts can be sprinkled over salads, desert or morning yogurt.
2. Best Vegetarian Protein: Legumes and Beans
Why it’s heart healthy? Fiber-containing legume varieties such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas supply around 6 to 8 g of fibers per half cup. Fibers are great at keeping lipids in blood in check to control cholesterol level in blood, according to Darlene Zimmerman, who is from Henry Ford Health Centre. No cholesterol, almost no fat and a lot of proteins, iron and folic acids is what beans gifts your body with.
How to choose? Choose beans which are low in sodium content so that more than 30% sodium can be washed away by thorough rinsing of canned beans.
Where is it available? “S&W” deals with quality beans only and can provide you with beans with lower sodium content. You can add beans to salads, mixed vegetable delight, soups and other recipes.
3. Best Fruit: Avocado
Why it’s heart healthy? Avocados contain “healthy” monounsaturated fat molecules along with phytosterols which are heart healthy nutrients. Monounsaturated fat molecules have been evidenced by AHA to lower down LDL in the blood.
How to choose? Avocados that are soft in texture and ripened are best to choose rather than over-ripe spongy avocados.
Where is it available? Use avocado mash in your sandwich spread instead of jams and butter. Have avocados in your salads otherwise.
4. Best Fish: Salmon
Why it’s heart healthy? Why do doctors recommend heart patients to have fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice every week? Salmon fish has Omega 3 fatty acids, which are basically unsaturated fatty acids. They lower triglycerides level as well as blood pressure level in a person. Atherosclerosis can be prevented as inflammations are curbed through the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The risk of death from heart disease has been greatly reduced in patients who regularly had one to two servings of fish every week. Mackerel, Trout and Sardines are other varieties of fishes containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
How to choose? Wild Salmon contains a high level of omega-3s. Amount of fat should be lesser than 16g, trans fats should be lesser than 5 grams, cholesterol quantity should be 95 mg, sodium amount should be lesser than 480 mg and EPA should be more than 500 mg in a perfect heart-healthy fish that you may choose. Wild Alaska Red Salmon is a great and healthy choice that’s easily available.
Where is it available? Besides frozen varieties of fish and fresh fishes, canned Salmon fish is also available. Try to have about 3.5 oz of fish serving per week to see the difference.
5. Best Lean Beef: Grass-Fed Instead of Grain-Fed Beef
Why it’s heart healthy? Albert R. Matheny, owner of “Source Organic Whey” company says that grass-fed beef has been found to be richer in omega-3s than the grain-fed beef variety. It’s predominantly loaded with omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) which are anti-inflammatory in action. Blood clotting is reduced greatly because of reduction of triglycerides. Vitamin E and linoleic acid are also present to prevent heart diseases.
How to choose? When it comes to choosing beef, check the label to be marked as “100% grass-fed” and “grass finished”. Secondly, Get a confirmation from AGA (American Grass-fed Association) or Food Alliance about beef feeding content. In a 100g of serving, make sure to have 5g or lesser fat, 2g of saturated fats, lesser than 95 mg cholesterol and lesser than 480 mg of sodium content.
Where is it available? Check in any of your nearest grocery store and for your assurance, it will be carrying a label of certification from AGA. Have a limited 3 to 4 ounces of cooked meat in a week to have better results regarding your heart problems.
6. Best Vegetable: Brussels Sprouts
Why it’s heart healthy? Green vegetables may not sound good to you but they are great for your heart. Brussels sprouts specifically is rich in soluble fiber content which primarily keeps cholesterol restricted to digestive tract so that it may be excreted later on. Just a cup of sprouts has 4g of healthy soluble fibers. Cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, collard green, kale and Brussels sprouts are found to be effective against heart diseases.
How to choose? Organic food is definitely the best option. Brussels having a firm and round heads without spots and sponginess are healthier for you.
Where is it available? Fresh Brussels are available in winters specifically Birds Eye Brussels Sprouts. Try out this delicious recipe where you just have to sprinkle your sprouts with olive oil, dice them in halves and roast, microwave or sauté them.
7. Best Dairy Product: Milk
Why it’s heart healthy? Washington State University declared organic milk as the best dairy product as it has the higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6 fatty acids. What creates the difference is that organic milk has about 62% higher amount of omega 3s and 25 % lesser amount of omega-6s in comparison to inorganic regular milk.
How to choose? AHA has a standard 130 calories at maximum per glass of serving which organic milk should be meeting to make milk a healthier choice for your heart.
Where is it available? Search for top-rating organic milk supplying farms. A farm promoting group from Cornucopia Institute rated and check marked 68 different dairy farms and their brands.
8. Best Whole Grain Food: Oat Bran
Why it’s heart healthy? Oat Bran keeps cholesterol level in check and endeavors to lower it as it does not have sodium and fat content. Layne Lieberman, representative of AHA tells that beta-glucan content of Oat Bran, which is a soluble fiber, has the ability to regulate sugar level of blood along with boosting up of the immune system. Studies have shown that five to ten grams of soluble fiber intake each day incredibly lowers cholesterol levels in people. Lowered cholesterol level prevents accumulation of substances in arterial walls which lead to blockages or constricted walls. Berg et al studied that it has reduced lipoprotein level that is major factor in the transport of fats and lipids through blood plasma. Additionally, Oat Bran has vitamin E which is the renowned and effective vitamin for protection of heart.
How to choose? When it comes to choosing from various varieties of Oat Barn, choose the product which has less than 1 g saturated fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, less than 9 g sugar, 480 mg of sodium, and 51% of whole grain content.
Where is it available? Natural food stores usually have them. In a single serving, put 1/3 cup dried oat bran with a bit of smoothie or yogurt. You can add muffin mix or top it with some herbs to add more flavor. Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Honey Oat bread is the best to choose from oat bran varieties.
9. Best Alternative for Dairy: Almond Milk
Why it’s heart healthy? Vitamin E and other mineral ingredients of almond milk help control higher cholesterol level, reveals Kevin Campbell who is an assistant professor in cardiology dept. at University of North Carolina. In addition, almond milk is lactose and cholesterol free.
How to choose? The milk labeled as “100% almond milk” should be considered without any dairy contents. Intake of a glass of almond milk of about 8-oz or adding it in cereal is a heartier choice with only about 130 calories.
Where is it available? Plain, chocolate, vanilla and other varieties of almond milks are offered by Almond Breeze. Look out for them now!
10. Best Breakfast Choice: Egg White Omelet
Why it’s heart healthy? The Journal of Nutrition has found whole egg to be raising cholesterol levels. In contrast egg whites, loaded with proteins, make you less vulnerable to getting heart diseases and obesity.
How to choose? Get some pasteurized and liquid egg white devoid of all additives and artificial contents.
Where is it available? Search for Eggland’s Best 100% Liquid Egg Whites and alternatively for Kirkland Signature 100% Liquid Egg Whites instead of separating egg whites from yolks by yourself. 3 to 4 egg whites with added chopped vegetables and spices are great options to start your day.