Top Foods for a Healthy Heart

By: Primacy Dietitians, Mar 15, 2016
  Article

Tired of hearing what not to eat? Here’s what you can eat!

Are you tired of people telling you what not to eat? Here are some of the best foods you can eat, so you can dine your way to a healthy heart!

Fatty fish

Fatty fish are the top source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are beneficial for heart health as they can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. Aim to eat fish at least twice a week but if you don’t eat fish, omega-3 supplements can be an alternative. Check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking fish oil supplements if you are on any blood thinning medications.

Omega 3 sources: Salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring, fortified dairy products and eggs.

Dark green and brightly coloured vegetables

Canada’s food guide suggests eating at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. Dark green, bright orange and red-coloured vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fight heart disease. Dark leafy greens can be easily prepared by sautéing with a bit of canola or olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.

Dark green veggies: Spinach, broccoli, kale, bok choy, Swiss chard and green beans

Orange and red veggies: Carrots, tomatoes, squash, peppers and sweet potatoes

Berries

It’s time for a berry revival! Berries are full of antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation and to get rid of the free radicals that damage your body’s cells. They also have the additional bonus of being low in calories and are a good source of fibre. Enjoy berries fresh or frozen or mixed with low fat yogurt or in a shake for a delicious treat.

Nuts and peanuts

Almonds, walnuts, pecans…the variety is vast and everyone has their favourites! Although nuts are high in fat, they consist of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which actually help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Despite these heart healthy fats, nuts are high in calories so you should limit your daily portion to a small handful (1/4 cup) or 2 tbsp of nut butters, like peanut or almond butter.

Oats & soluble fibre

People often relate fibre to maintaining “regularity.” Oats, oat bran and oat flour are also a great source of soluble fibre, a type of fibre that helps to lower bad cholesterol. Oats also have a low glycemic index, which means they can help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Other good sources of soluble fibre are flaxseed, beans/legumes/lentils, barley, psyllium and soy nuts. As little as five to ten grams per day of soluble fibre can reduce your bad cholesterol by five percent.

Primacy Dietitians is a panel of dietitians who are all members of the Dietitians of Canada.