1. Fresh Herbs:
Fresh herbs can help make other foods heart-healthy when they replace salt, sugar, and trans fats.
Rosemary, oregano, thyme and other herbs contain antioxidants which are good for your heart.
2. Black Beans:
Mild, tender black beans are packed with nutrients including folate, antioxidants, and magnesium, along with fiber, which helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Canned black beans are easy to add to soups and salads but don’t forget to rinse them to remove extra sodium.
Salmon is a top food for heart health being rich in the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Omega-3s may lessen the risk of heart rhythm disorders and lower blood pressure. Salmon also lowers blood triglycerides and helps curb inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of salmon or other naturally oily fish a week. It is better to bake it in foil with herbs and veggies to get additional health benefits.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
This oil, made from the first press of olives, is especially rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help protect your blood vessels. It's also a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are a better choice than saturated fats (such as butter) for your cholesterol. Use a little bit for salads, on cooked veggies, or with bread.
A small handful of walnuts a day may lower your cholesterol and ease inflammation in your heart's arteries. Walnuts are packed with omega-3s, monounsaturated fats, and fiber. The benefits come when walnuts replace bad fats, those in chips and cookies. Walnut oil has omega-3s too and it can be tried in salad dressings.
Almonds are chock full of plant sterols, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. They may help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, if you favor them over other fats. Grab a small handful a day. Almonds can be toasted to enhance their creamy, mild flavor.
This sweet, juicy fruit has the cholesterol-fighting fiber pectin as well as potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Research shows that orange juice may make your blood vessels work better and lower blood pressure a bit.
These sweet, crunchy veggies may help control blood sugar levels and make diabetes less likely. They may also help your cholesterol levels, since they're a source of soluble fiber - the kind of fiber also found in oats.
Try this nutty whole grain in place of rice with dinner, or simmer barley into soups and stews. The fiber in barley can help lower cholesterol levels and may lower blood sugar levels, too.
Oats in all forms can help your heart by lowering LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. A warm bowl of oatmeal fills you up for hours, fights snack attacks, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable over time - very useful for people with diabetes.
This shiny, honey-colored seed has three things that are good for your heart: fiber, phytochemicals called lignans, and ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Grind flaxseed for the best nutrition. Add it to cereal, baked goods, yogurt, or mustard on a sandwich.
12. Low-Fat Yogurt:
While dairy products are often touted for bone health, they can help control high blood pressure, too. Yogurt has almost twice as potassium as milk. To minimize fat, choose low-fat or non-fat products.
13. Foods Fortified With Sterols:
Some margarines, soy milks, almond milks, and orange juices have cholesterol-fighting sterols and stanols added. These plant extracts block cholesterol absorption in the gut and can lower LDL levels by 10% without affecting good cholesterol.
Coffee and tea may help protect your heart - even decaf coffee works! Studies show that people who drink 2-3 cups a day may be less likely to get diabetes, too. If you already have high blood pressure, be careful, since caffeine can make it worse. Choose black coffee or a non-fat latte to limit fat and calories.
Blueberries are simply brilliant when it comes to nutrition. Their anthocyanins give them their deep blue color and support heart health. Blueberries also have beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.