We hear the buzz word “heart-healthy” often. It is often plastered on food packages to ensure us that we are making the right choice by purchasing the product. I have seen these magic words on a huge variety of products, from cereals to fruit candy.
But what are TRULY the best foods for your heart? Here you can see the 9 best foods for your heart and the reasons why these foods are coined as the “heart-healthy” foods.
Below, I have compiled 5 recipes worth checking out for each of the heart-healthy ingredient shown. Enjoy!
The Vitamin C present in oranges is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in forming collagen, which is a key component in the structure of the arteries. Oranges are also beneficial in increasing bone strength due to presence of magnesium. They also help decrease the levels of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream, reducing the risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke. Oranges also have plenty of antioxidants, which counter the free radicals that cause aging.
- Coconut Orange Date Balls by Sensual Appeal (pictured above)
- Orange Poppy Seed Pound Cake by Cookie and Kate
- Orange Thyme Salad with Glazed Beets and Spiced Walnuts by Rawmazing Raw Food
- Crispy Orange Cauliflower by Vegan Richa
- Blood Orange Avocado Scones by Sprint 2 The Table
Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces “bad” cholesterol and prevents blood clots.
- Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes by Sensual Appeal (pictured above)
- Poached Pear with Pomegranate and Cardamom by Feasting at Home
- Sauteed Red Wine Vinegar Kale by Eat Well Meal Plans
- Wine Roasted Mushroom Crostini by Life’s a Strawberry
- Red Wine Berry Smoothie by A Song of Spice and Fire
Lentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Green Lentil Curry
- Green Lentil and Coconut Curry by A Touch of Zest (pictured above)
- Chard, Lentil, and Potato Soup with Sausage by Foods of Our Lives
- Mama’s Stuffed Veggie Loaf (GF) by Making Thyme For Health
- Carribbean Curried Lentils by Jilly… Inspired
- Smoky Chipotle, Lentil, and Cauliflower Burgers by Healthy-Delicious
Kale is a mine of heart-healthy antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin E. It’s also rich in lutein, which is correlated with protection against early atherosclerosis (A disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls.). Kale even contains an unusual compound, glucoraphanin, that activates a special protective protein called Nrf2 which creates a sort of Teflon coating in your arteries to keep plaque from adhering.
Baked Mushroom with Kale
- Baked Mushrooms with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes by Wunda Woman Wellness (pictured above)
- Kale & Sunflower Pesto Spread by Mama Mouse Says
- Soft Kale Tacos with Corn and Sweet Pepper Relish by Eat Healthy
- Cream of Asparagus Soup with Kale by Vegan Yumminess
- Thai Chicken, Kale & Mango Salad by iFOODreal
Like tea, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are compounds that act as antioxidants and protect cells from free radicals. Flavonoids can also lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol. Several studies have shown that dark chocolate may help keep arteries elastic and blood free-flowing by improving the function of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. In addition to these heart-healthy benefits, dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.
- Molten Lava-esque Mocha Microwave Cake for One by Sensual Appeal (pictured above)
- Spiced Chili Chocolate Cookies (vegan & gf) by Sensual Appeal
- Fudgy Dark Chocolate Date Frosting by Back To Her Roots
- Oatmeal PB Balls with Dark Chocolate Chips by Food Fanatic
- No Bake Dark Chocolate and Coconut Bars (gf) by Eat Good 4 Life
Almonds are a premier source of Vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that may play a role in the prevention of many chronic diseases. The plant sterols in almonds reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, while the unsaturated oils encourage the liver to make less LDL and more “good” HDL. A certain study found major declines in fatal arrhythmias (an abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the hear) with 2 servings of nuts a week.
- Chocolate Almond Cookies (vegan) by Sensual Appeal (pictured above)
- Homemade Almond Milk by Produce on Parade
- Chocolate Almond Muffins by Sensual Appeal
- Ginger Almond Biscotti by Running To The Kitchen
- Quinoa, Chickpea, and Almond Salad by The Law Student’s Wife
Garlic has been found to lower levels of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. It may also help to dissolve clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Even when cooked, garlic helps keep cholesterol in your bloodstream from oxidizing and damaging the lining of your blood vessels, which helps prevent the formation of plaque.
- Lemon Garlic Hummus by Making Thyme for Health (pictured above)
- Garlic & Lime Red Cabbage Slaw by The Honour System
- Garlic Lime Shrimp Salad by Peanut Butter & Peppers
- Roasted Garlic Almond Dip by Foxes Love Lemons
- Garlic Herb Aioli with Spring Vegetables by Gourmande in the Kitchen
A can of sardines, which is equal to about 3.75 ounces, contains 10.53 grams of fat, but only 1.4 grams are saturated. The rest of the fat in a can of sardines is healthy unsaturated fat, which can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids in sardines reduce inflammation. Sardines are also a great source of calcium and iron, as well as magnesium, potassium and zinc. A can of sardines supplies a healthy dose of vitamin B12, which helps you produce red blood cells. You also get small amounts of niacin for healthy skin, and vitamin A for the normal function of your eyes.
- Maltese Open Sandwich by Tales of a Kitchen (pictured above)
- Little Fish Cakes by The Professional Palate
- Watercess Sardine Tea Sandwiches by Teaspoon of Spice
- Lemony Sardine Pate by Nuts about Food
- Whole Wheat Couscous with Sardines and Tomatoes by Dishing Up Delights
Pomegranates contain paraoxonase—a naturally occurring enzyme in the body that helps keep LDL (bad cholesterol) from accumulating in arteries. Studies have shown that both pomegranate seed oil and pomegranate fruit extract have anti-inflammatory effects that stop the destruction of joints caused by osteoarthritis. Packed with potent antioxidants (including powerful ellagic acid), pomegranates help limit the damage of UV rays. They also defend against free radicals and increase collagen production.
- Wild Blueberry and Pomegranate Oatmeal Breakfast Bars by What’s Cooking Good Looking (pictured above)
- Granola & Pomegranate Bowl by Love and Lemons
- Chickpea-Yogurt Dip with Pomegranate & Mint by Two Blue Lemons
- Couscous Apple Pomegranate Salad by My San Francisco Kitchen
- Blackberry Pomegranate Smoothie by The Well Floured Kitchen
Kammie wants to know:
- Which of these heart-healthy foods is your favorite?
- Which of these heart-healthy foods do you wish you ate more often?
Let me know in the comments below!
Sources: Prevention, Southern Living, Reader’s Digest, SF Gate, How Stuff Works, Mayo Clinic, Mind Body Green, ZipHeal