American Heart Month is in full swing and ways to keep your heart healthy are right at your fingertips. One of the biggest and lasting changes you can make is for your diet. Along with eating less unhealthy fats like butter and bacon, you should be selective about the foods you put in your body to help your heart be its healthiest. Here are 10 of the best foods to make your heart healthy and some yummy recipes to help incorporate them into your diet.
Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, any berries — they're all packed with anti-inflammatories which reduce the risk of heart disease and help with your vascular health. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that help reduce the risk of coronary disease. Try this recipe: Flatout® Delicious Blueberry Cinnamon Roll Ups.
Dark chocolate: That's right — chocolate literally heals broken hearts. You need to be smart about this one. According to Prevention, you need to pick one that doesn't contain saturated fats and that does contain at least 70 percent cocoa. Dark chocolate relaxes the arteries and increases blood flow, helping you work towards a healthier heart. Try this recipe: Skinny Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread.
>> Read more: 13 Healthy Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Flaxseed: Here is another ingredient rich in omega-3 fatty acids in addition to lignans and fiber. Flaxseed helps keep your arteries clear, lowers blood pressure and regulates your heartbeat. Try to eat a few tablespoons each day by using it to top your oatmeal and salads. Try these flax products for an easy way to add heart health to your diet. (via WebMD)
Nuts: Any kind of nut, especially almonds and walnuts, are easy to add to your diet. They're inexpensive and quick to pack for a snack at work. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids among other nutrients. The benefits that are crammed into such a tiny package include lowering your cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots and improving the lining of your arteries. Try this recipe: Skinny Blueberry and Almond Trail Mix.
>> Read more about why nuts are such a great addition to your diet.
Oatmeal: Oats give you a tasty serving of omega-3 fatty acids, folate fiber and potassium. A big bowl of oatmeal is the perfect way to lower your cholesterol and clear your arteries right at the start of your day. Try this recipe: Cranberry Banana Oatmeal Bake.
Red wine: One glass every now and then is all you need. While it's often not wise to add alcohol to your daily routine, red wine contains ingredients like antioxidants and resveratrol, which helps protect the blood vessels, lower cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Click here to read more about whether or not red wine is actually good for you.
Salmon: Oily fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fats which lower blood pressure and help open up your arteries and encourage blood flow. According to Eating Well, two or more servings of fish each week lowers the risk of heart disease by 30 percent over the long term. Try this recipe: Skinny Sweet and Spicy Salmon.
Soy milk: While you might not prefer soy milk, try using it more frequently because it's high in an organic compound called isoflavones, which helps reduce cholesterol. This gem is naturally low in fat and doesn't have cholesterol like animal milk does. It can also help with blood circulation. Click here to learn more about soy. (via Prevention)
Spinach: Take it from Popeye, you need this leafy green in your diet. Spinach is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help lower the risk of heart disease. You really can't get enough of this one. Try this recipe: Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce.
>> Read more: 8 Recipes for Sneaking In Spinach
Tea: Antioxidants in tea, particularly green tea, make it the preferred beverage for lowering the risk of a heart attack. According to Eating Well, people who drink at least 12 ounces of tea each day are about half as likely to have a heart attack as those who don't drink tea. Try this recipe: Hibiscus Strawberry Rhubarb Iced Tea
It can't hurt to add these items to your grocery list. They're versatile and wonderfully healthy and will certainly help boost your heart health. So stock up and try some new recipes! Your heart will thank you.
>> Read about how adding cardio to your daily routine can help your heart health.