According to the American Heart Association, one in three American adults has cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, delicious, heart-healthy foods can help lower cholesterol and lead to a healthier lifestyle. In the spirit of a resolving to make 2009 a healthier, happier New Year, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) offers tips on great-tasting additions to help make heart-healthy eating simple and fun.
“It’s easy to fixate on what we shouldn’t eat when going heart healthy; instead, consider this an opportunity to explore new, flavorful foods,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA.
Whole-Hearted Whole Grains. One of the best things you can do for your heart is incorporate more whole grains into your diet. Experiment with lesser-known, yet tasty, grains such as quinoa, whole rye, wild rice, whole oats, bulgur, millet and brown rice. All are easy-to-find in your local co-op’s bulk bin aisle.
Powerhouse Produce. Fresh flavors, complex carbohydrates and abundant nutrients in powerhouse produce make heart-healthy eating a breeze. How can you tell if it’s powerhouse produce? In general, look for fruits and vegetables that are dark green, orange and yellow as these types tend to have higher nutrient density.
Fit Fats. Fat is part of every diet, but it’s important to choose “good” fats, like unsaturated fat and Omega-3s. Avoid saturated fats, partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease. When cooking and baking, choose product labels that say “trans-fat free” or use vegetable oils like canola, olive and corn oil. For main courses, look for fish high in Omega-3s like mackerel, anchovies, herring, salmon and trout. For snacks, try raw walnuts or almonds.
Red Wine. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and damage your heart. However, wine in moderation, and in particular red wine which is rich in flavonoids, may help prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries.